Potato farmers in Bangladesh: Late blight dashes hope | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 17, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:09 PM, January 17, 2018

Late blight dashes hope

Dense fog, absence of sunlight cause the disease; farmers are not getting result of anti-fungal doses

Potato growers in Dinajpur and Rangpur are very worried as the deadly fungal disease late blight has started spreading rapidly in their potato fields because of dense fog and absence of sufficient sunlight.

Potato plants die fast if infected with late blight, said Agriculture Officer of Dinajpur Abu Shams Md Badruddoza and Badarganj Upazila Agriculture Officer Mahbubur Rahman. Growers say the disease might affect potato production target this year.  

Many growers told this correspondent that they are not getting any result despite spraying anti-fungal medicines as per advice of officials of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) to prevent the spread of the disease.

Farmer Mokhlesur Rahman of Kalupara village under Badarganj upazila of Rangpur said he cultivated potato on 18 decimals of land this year. He sprayed anti-fungal medicine five times since he noticed the late blight infection in his field 15 days ago, but to no avail. “Sixty percent of the plants in my field have died so far due to the infection,” the elderly farmer said.

Potato growers spray anti-fungal medicine to protect their crop from late blight disease at Alambiditar village in the upazila. PHOTO: STAR

Afzal Hossain, another farmer of the same area, said he has already spent Tk 5,000 for saving his potato plants, but they are still dying of late blight disease.

Abdul Jabbar of Mominpur village in Rangpur Sadar upazila said around 60 percent of the potatoes in his one acre field have already died. “Potato production might fall this year if the disease is not controlled,” he apprehended. 

Abdur Rahman of Polashbari village in Biral upazila said his entire potato crop has been damaged due to late blight infection. “I was expecting a bumper potato production this year as everything had been alright a couple of weeks ago, but I have no chance to get back my invested money now,” he added.

Mahbubur Rahman said 2,720 hectares of land have been brought under potato cultivation in the upazila this year. He said late blight is spreading fast due to the adverse weather, adding that officials and staff are working to solve the problem.

The DAE officials said around 1.20 lakh hectares have been brought under potato farming in the two districts this season, of which 52,000 hectares are in Rangpur.  

Additional Director of DAE in Rangpur Shah Alam said potatoes on around 2,500 hectares have been damaged by late blight infection, adding that field level workers are in touch with the farmers to cope with the situation. 

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