A larger number of farmers in Nilphamari are cultivating early varieties of winter vegetables for a higher profit margin and a reduced risk, as opposed to that of traditional crops such as paddy, jute and maize.
Arif Rabbani, sub-assistant agriculture officer of Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in Nilphamari, said the district is considered as country’s one of the best vegetable producing regions and the DAE this year has set a target of growing 1.26 lakh tonnes of winter vegetables in the district on 5,834 hectares of land -- 334 hectares higher than the previous year.
The vegetable varieties that most farmers prefer include tomato, beans, radish, cauliflower, ladyfinger, cabbage, brinjal and various types of leafy greens, he added.
During a visit to Subarnakhuli in Sadar upazila and Bhashanipara and Uttar Sonakhuli in Saidpur, this correspondent found vast areas covered with winter vegetable plants including cauliflower, cabbage and tomato.
“Cultivation of early winter vegetables needs hard labour and funds for buying fertiliser, pesticides and polythene sheets, needed for smooth growth of plants, combating repeated pest attacks and for covering up the fields to protect from heavy rainfall,” said Kamrul Hasan, agriculture officer in Sadar upazila.
Farmer Zafar Uddin from Uttar Sonakhuli village said he cultivated 10,000 saplings of early variety cauliflower on three bighas of land in late August.
He made a good profit from early varieties of winter vegetables last year, he said, adding that this year he spent around Tk 50 thousand and he expects to earn at least Tk 1.50 lakh from sales in November.
Another farmer, Kasim Uddin from Bhasanipara village in the same upazila, said he spent Tk 30 thousand to grow early variety of beans on one bigha of land and he hopes to make Tk 1 lakh by selling the vegetables at Tk 60 a kilogram at retail market.
Farmer Khitish Barman from Sonarai village in the upazila said he usually gets three harvests of early variety of red amaranth, a leafy vegetable, as it takes only one month for each harvest from his one bigha land.
Abul Kashem Azad, DAE deputy director in Nilphamari, said they advise farmers to change age-old farming practices by not always depending on cultivation of traditional crops such as paddy.
More farmers are responding to their advice and finding success in growing early varieties of winter vegetables, he added.