Mustard acreage hits new high
Mustard cultivation in Bangladesh has reached a new high as improved varieties of the crop released by public research institutions are offering higher profits and yields, according to industry people.
Farmers have sown the oilseed on more than 10 lakh hectares of land this winter, with the total acreage expanding 26 percent year-on-year, shows preliminary data of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE).
This is the fifth consecutive year that farmers have expanded the cultivation of mustard, which is a major oilseed crop in the country.
Multiple factors, including the release of high yielding varieties that mature quickly and provide better yields; and the higher price of soybean oil, have encouraged farmers to increase mustard cultivation.
Also, the scope to grow the oilseed widened after the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) released quick growing varieties of rice, which provide an opportunity to plant mustard after harvesting Aman paddy and prior to transplanting Boro, the dry-season rice crop.
"The BRRI Dhan-75 rice variety matures in 115-days and this provides the scope to cultivate mustard before the Boro season," said Chand Ali Dewan, a farmer in Ullapara upazila of Sirajganj, one of the largest oilseed producing districts.
In the past, only a few farmers would grow mustard as there were no quick maturing varieties of rice for the Aman season, he added.
Dewan sowed the Bari Sarisha-14 variety of mustard this year for its short duration and higher yield compared to other varieties.
The oil yield is also higher in case of Bari Sarisha-14.
"We get 18 kilogrammes [kgs] of oil from crushing mustard seeds of this variety whereas we could get 14 kgs from other local varieties," the 71-year-old farmer said.
"There is a lot of demand for cultivation," he added.
Khairul Alom, another farmer in Sirajganj, said mustard acreage once dropped as farmers lost interest in face of low yields.
"But the improved varieties are really good and brought growers back to the oilseed," he added.
Badal Chandra Biswas, director general of the DAE, said the government has taken a special target to increase the cultivation of mustard in order to cut import dependence for edible oils.
Bangladesh requires 20 lakh tonnes of edible oil annually and most of it is met through imports.
The country spent around Tk 28,430 crore to import edible oils in fiscal 2022-23, which was 30 percent higher year-on-year, data of Bangladesh Bank shows.
As a part of the initiative, the DAE provided 1 kg of seed of the Bari Sarisha-14, Bari Sarisha-17, Bari Sarisha-18 and BINA Sarisha-9 varieties to 12 lakh farmers this year.
"We have seen farmers keeping seeds of their own too and many of them were sown in mango gardens and the banks of canals. So, they do not have to sacrifice any crop," Biswas said.
M Shalim Uddin, principal scientific officer of the Oilseed Research Centre under the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, said the government's incentive lured many farmers to mustard as they are getting improved varieties that become ready to harvest in 85 days.
"Farmers are being able to produce mustard before cultivating Boro rice," he said, adding that the high price of soybean oil is another factor encouraging people to consume mustard oil instead.
Farmers grow Boro rice on 20 lakh hectares collectively after harvesting the Aman crop, which is grown in the rainy season, according to Uddin.