Pumpkin farming spreading in Barishal’s chars
Pumpkin has become the most favoured crop among farmers based along the Arial Kha river in Barishal as the popular variety of winter squash brings better returns compared to other crops.
As a result, thousands of farmers in char areas of the region are now inclined towards pumpkin cultivation.
Nesharuddin Howlader, a farmer of Rajdhar village under Charmonai union in Barisal sadar upazila, said he planted a hybrid breed of pumpkin on two acres of land this season.
With the required seeds having cost about Tk 14,000, Howlader spent a total of around Tk 1 lakh on his farm to produce at least Tk 2.5 lakh worth of pumpkin.
So far, he has harvested about 12 kilogrammes (kg) of the fruit from his pasture along the river, where all the fields bear a lush green look.
Jahangir Hossain, a farmer of the same area, planted pumpkins on 60 decimals of land and is currently selling his produce at a local wholesale market for Tk 20 per kg.
According to other locals, at least 60 pumpkins are sent to a wholesale market in Barishal city every day from this char alone.
Mohsin Khan, a local pumpkin trader, said he moved to the village from Dhaka amid the coronavirus pandemic and started cultivating pumpkins.
As business has been good, he is now enjoying swift profits after overcoming the losses caused by Covid-19.
Khan went on to say that pumpkin is more profitable to farm compared to other crops as it takes less effort and expenditure.
"Besides, irrigation is very convenient in the region as there is a river right nearby," he said, adding that farmers like him plant other crops after pumpkin season.
Maqbul Hossain Khan, another farmer in the same char area, said not only in the pastures along the Arial Kha river, but also several thousand acres of land on both sides are being used to cultivate pumpkin as well.
Khan then said that it is possible to sell the vegetable in just four months of planting as fewer diseases and pests afflict the crop.
Other than Barishal sadar upazila, thousands of farmers in the Charshefali, Nalchar, Char Bholanath, Bhasanchar and Bagarja Char areas of Mehendiganj upazila around the Arial Kha river are currently seeing huge profits from pumpkin cultivation.
Ganesh Dutta, a wholesaler of City Market, the biggest wholesale market for vegetables in Barishal, said Pumpkin is being marketed to a large extent at this time.
"Now, it is being sold at a retail price of Tk 30 per kg as these pumpkins are currently in high demand," he added.
Nahid Bin Rafiq, agriculture information service officer of Barishal, said the Bari-1 and Bari-2 varieties of pumpkin developed by the Agricultural Research Institute have become the most popular breeds of the crop.
Rafiq then said both varieties yield about 18 to 20 tonnes per acre and that the pastures in the region are suitable for growing pumpkin.
Shawkat Osman, additional director of the Department of Agricultural Extension in Barishal, said pumpkin yields have been good this year as more farmers are leaning towards its cultivation.
Pumpkin has been planted on 2,177 hectares of land in the greater Barishal region to produce some 77,713 tonnes of the crop, he added.