Tomato growers of the Brahmaputra river basin areas in Sadar upazila are happy as they are getting bumper yield and good price, thanks to favourable weather.
This season, tomato was cultivated on 1,300 hectares of land in the river basin areas under Lakkhirchar, Tulsirchar, Narundi and Ranagachha unions of the upazila, while the number of growers is 6,500, agriculture department sources said.
Different hi-breed varieties of tomato, including safol, udayan and bipul plus, are being cultivated commercially in the river basin areas for about two decades.
With the passage of time, tomato cultivation has gained much popularity among the growers as they are able to make a handsome profit from the produce every season, which has helped them become solvent, said Sadar Upazila Agriculture Officer Shakhawat Ekram.
Besides, tomatoes produced here meet the seasonal demand of consumers in Mymensingh, Dhaka, Gazipur, Naraynaganj, Cumilla, Chattogram, Sylhet, Khulna, Feni and Noakhali, Shakhawat said.
The agriculture department is hopeful of getting 78,000 tonnes to 84,500 tonnes of tomato by achieving production target of 60 tonnes to 65 tonnes per hectare (200 maunds to 216.5 maunds per bigha) this season (October'18 to February'19) as there has not been heavy dew or temperature fluctuation, he said.
72,000 tonnes of tomato were cultivated on 1,200 hectares last season, he added.
“Harvesting started from mid-December and will continue till end of February. The vegetable was sold at Tk 1,000 per maund for first two weeks, Tk 800 for the next two weeks, and is now selling at Tk 600 in local wholesale markets. Growers will get around Tk 500 in the first two weeks of February and Tk 400 in the next two weeks. Farmers expect to get, on average, Tk 660 per maund and make a profit of around Tk 1 lakh per bigha,” he added.
A number of growers at Chargajaria village under Lakkhirchar union told this correspondent that they have started making profit after recovering their production cost of Tk 25,000 to Tk 30,000 per bigha.
“I cultivated tomato on two bighas of my land and started harvesting from mid-December. By this time, I have earned Tk 1.3 lakh from the sale of the produce and made a profit of Tk 80,000 (Tk 40,000 per bigha),” said Abdur Rahim, 40, of Chargajaria village.
“I am hopeful of getting profit of over Tk 1 lakh as per expected production of 200 maunds or more per bigha,” he added.
Surja Begum, 45, of the same village, said she cultivated tomato on her one bigha of land, which has started bringing her profit after recovering the production cost.
“I am hopeful of getting 200 maunds and making a profit of Tk 1 lakh as the plants have grown well without facing any pest and disease attack,” she smiled.
Wholesale buyers, who purchase the vegetable from the growers at local wholesale markets --Nandina Bazar, Narundi and Ananda Bazar -- are taking 60 to 70 trucks of tomato to different parts of the country daily and are making profit of between Tk 9,000 to Tk 12,000 per truck carrying 150 maunds, said wholesale buyer Sajal Shaha.
Several hundred workers, including women, are getting an opportunity to earn Tk 400 to Tk 500 per day by sorting out good ones from the piles of tomato and loading the trucks, said another buyer Muksed Ali Sheikh.
“Growers will benefit a lot if they avail the opportunity of preserving their seasonal produce in a cold storage, which could be set up by the government or a private organisation,” the agriculture officer suggested.