Farmers in the district have increased maize cultivation and reduced tobacco farming this year due to the joint efforts of agriculture officials and NGOs to raise their awareness about the bad impact of tobacco farming.
Tobacco was cultivated on 11,500 hectares of land in the district last year, which dropped to 8,300 hectares this year. Maize was cultivated on 19,700 hectares last year, while it is 23,200 hectares this year, said an official of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Lalmonirhat.
Farmer Zahurul Islam, 52, of Digholtari village in Aditmari upazila, said he cultivated tobacco on eight bighas of land last year, but he cultivated maize this year as he has realised that tobacco farming is harmful for humans and also for the fertility of the soil.
Soleman Miah, 55, of Hajiganj village said they can earn profit Tk 6,000 to Tk 7,000 from farming maize on one bigha of land, and Tk 9,000 to Tk 10,000 from tobacco farming, adding that he has cultivated maize on six bighas of land where tobacco was cultivated for the last 15 years as tobacco is a harmful crop.
Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance member Milon Patwary said they hoped that tobacco farming would decrease further by next year.
DAE Deputy Director in Lalmonirhat Bidubhuson Roy said agriculture officials always encourage farmers to cultivate maize and other crops instead of tobacco.