Farmers picking potatoes to be used as seeds for next season from their farmland at Mohiron village in Jessore. PHOTO: STAR
Abdul Halim of Mohiron village under Bagharpara upazila in Jessore sold some of his potato at Tk 7 per kilogram. He cultivated potato in 10 decimals of land. Most of his production is waiting to be sold at times of high price (at least Tk 20/25 per kilogram), about 8 months later. He is expecting high price for his potato in the season when farmers are selling their production at throwaway prices. Like Abdul Halim some other famers of Bagharpara, Chaugachha and Jhecorgahha are expecting the same high price. They are expecting the high price because they have cultivated potato not for consumption, but for producing seeds. Potato seeds cultivation has changed their thinking and has also changed the traditional production methods.
Alongside the high price for their potato which can be used as seeds, the farmers have also increased their production and decreased the diseases of plant through using modern techniques of potato cultivation in Jessore. A total of 650 farmers of three upazilas including Bagharpara, Jhecorgachha and Chaugachha of Jessore cultivated potato for seed production in their 10 decimals of land, each. Jakir Hossain, a farmer of Mohiron village under Bagharpara upazila in Jessore said, “I cultivated potato on my 10 decimals of land and have got production of 30 mound using modern techniques while I had got 20/24 mound potato from the same land using traditional cultivation methods. We sort out 80 percent of our production for using it again as seeds and sell the rest of the output in the market for consumption.” Now, potato is being sold at market at Tk 3/4 kilogram while these farmers are selling their potato at Tk 6/7 per kilogram.
Haslim and Jakir said, the total cost of production is Tk 8 thousand for 10 decimal land. This 8 thousand includes seeds Tk 3500, plough Tk 600, pesticides Tk 300, fertilizers Tk 2500, irrigation Tk 300, and sawing and picking up Tk 1600. Their production is 35 mound from the land and they can sell their 20 percent production at Tk 6/7 per kilogram. Their output will be used as seeds after 8 months at Tk 20/25 per kilogram, they said. In that case additional Tk 4/4.5 is needed to preserve the produce in cold storages. “By producing seed potato we can use our own production as seed in our farm land”, they added. “The cost of potato seeds is all most half of the total potato production cost and we are now saving that cost,” they said.
Another farmer Sultan Ahmad of the same village said, “Using traditional method, we used to cut a big potato into pieces and had sewn it in the field. For that reason our potato field could be easily affected by virus and other diseases, he added. Now we use a small size whole potato for sewing, leave 24 inch gap between the rows, stop irrigation after 65 days of sewing and some others modern techniques. Now we sew potato from first to mid-November and pick it up in 80 days for get potato, which can be used as seeds.”
US-AID Horticulture Project, CIP/AVRDC Bangladesh and BRAC are supporting those farmers in producing potato seeds in Jessore. They are also providing modern potato cultivation training, seeds and cash assistant to the farmers to create interest. Enamul Haque, filed coordinator of the USAID Horticulture Project in Jessore said, “Our main aim is to make the farmers self-dependent in potato cultivation. We are proving training as the farmers can produces potato seeds on their own and save half of the production cost. The farmers can produce seeds for three to five years using the same potato.”