A farmer sprays pesticide on a potato field at Panchpir village in Kahaloo upazila of Bogra to protect the plants and leaves from being attacked by late blight disease. Photo: Star
After serious price fall of potatoes in several northern districts, late blight disease, caused by prolonged dense fog, has now become a causeof concern for potato growers in Bogra.
This season, 61,305 hectares of land in Bogra have been brought under potato cultivation against the target of 54,927 hectares while the production target is 10,79,815 tonnes, reports our correspondent, quoting sources at the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE).
"The field level officials are visiting the farmlands to give suggestion to the farmers for using anti-fungal medicine and required fertiliser in their potato fields," said Bazlur Rashid, deputy director of DAE in the district.
However, the pesticides and other agro-inputs are too costly for many farmers.
"I cultivated potato on two acres of land spending Tk 20,000 and expected to earn Tk 60,000. But the disease, marked by rotting of potatoes, is about to ruin my dreams. I am worried as I cannot afford pesticide and fertiliser,” said Waliul Islam of Panchpir village under Kahaloo upazila.
Our Gaibandha Correspondent reports: Potato growers in Gaibandha district started harvesting premature potato with the hope of getting good prices this season, but the market situation seems too frustrating for them.
Close-up of some badly affected plants. Photo: Star
Premature red variety potato is selling at Tk 10 and HYV white variety Tk 8 per kg while its early variety was sold at Tk 15 to 20 per kg last year.
"The price is likely to fall further. During the peak harvesting period in March last year, potato price saw a drastic fall," said Yunus Ali, a potato grower of Pashim Bati village in Saghata upazila.
This season 10,035 hectares of land have been brought under potato cultivation in the district with a target to produce 1,67,200 tonnes, DAE sources said, adding that this year a bumper production of potato is expected, especially in the char villages of Teesta and Jamuna river basin area.
Due to low prices, last year most of the potato growers incurred losses and many of them 'surrendered' their potato stock to the cold storage owners, sources said.
Meanwhile, huge quantites of early varieties potato from adjoining Bogra, Dinajpur and Joypurhat districts have flooded local markets, said Suroj Mia, a potato trader in Gaibandha Puratan Bazar.
The government can take initiatives like setting up of potato-based food industries to export the products to help the farmers get fair prices, said Mir Abdur Razzaque, deputy director of DAE in Gaibandha.
Our Lalmonirhat Correspondent adds: Potato growers in Lalmonirhat this season are worried about recovery of their production cost as the item is selling for a meagre Tk 2 to 3 to the traders in the field.
"I got 475 maunds of potato from two acres of land after spending Tk 65 thousand for the purpose. I sold 200 maunds of potato for Tk 20 thousand in the local market last week. I have preserved the rest potato at home, with a hope to sell it when prices become reasonable,” said Nazrul Islam at Rouchbag village of Aditmari upazila.
Shamsul Islam, a potato grower at Karnapur village in Sadar upazila said, "I cultivated potato on 20 acres of land and had to take loan from a local NGO to manage the production cost. But now I am worried about repayment of the loan."
Potato was cultivated on 2,150 hectares of land in five upazilas of the district and farmers got a bumper production this season. But the prices are low as last year's produces are still in the market, DAE officials said.
Potato was being sold at a meagre Tk 2-3 a kg also in Dinajpur.