These days the farmers in Nilphamari call ginger by the name “magical crop.”
Those who had been struggling with other crops, opted for the tuber crop about five years ago, following in the footsteps of one farmer, Mizanur Rahman.
Now about 200 farmers in Itakhola, Singdoi, Kanialkhata, and Chapra village under Sadar upazila and Shalmara village in Domar upazila are making fortunes with the spice, which is an essential ingredient in Bengali cuisine.
With guidance from a sub-assistant agriculture officer (SAAO), Mizan of Itakhola village started growing ginger. “After incurring losses for four consecutive years with paddy, I became so helpless that I started to sell my land. Because I had to maintain my family,” recalled the 55-year-old farmer.
“The officer had advised me to go for crop diversification [the addition of new crops or cropping systems to agricultural production on a particular farm],” said the farmer, who now owns a brick-built house, power tiller, and cultivable land.
“It is a magical crop as it helps to alleviate poverty. It takes a handsome amount to start cultivation and the production cost is higher than other crops. But the return is three times higher than the cost,” said Mizanur.
Arif Rabbani, an SAAO who maintains the crops register at the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in Nilphamari, echoed his statement.
“Before him [Mizanur], farmers here used to cultivate ginger in small scale for consumption only. But gradually over the years, they went for commercial production. This year, farmers cultivated the spice on 2,732 acres of land. Last year, it was cultivated on 2,608 acres and the yield was 11,055 tonnes,” the DAE official told this paper.
The soil and weather of the northern district is suitable for tuber crops like ginger, according to Obaidur Rahman Mondol, training officer at Nilphamari DAE.
“Ginger grows underground, in a layer where water cannot deposit. The ginger produced in Nilphamari are of best quality and costly,” said Obaidur.
The seeds are sown around the month of November. Harvesting period starts at the end of the month and continues till the end of December.
Sukumar Roy of Shalmara said, “I cultivated ginger on 1.5 bigha land this year and got 48 mound yield. I have already earned Tk 1.92 lakh by selling the produces at a rate of Tk 4,000 per mound. My production cost was Tk 60,000 only.
“With the money, I am now arranging the wedding of my daughter,” said the buoyant farmer.
Farmer Anwarul Islam of Chapra village said, “Last year I got 16 mounds of grains after cultivating the Aman paddy on one bigha land. I had to sell them at a rate as low as Tk 500 per mound.
“But I have made profit this year by cultivating ginger on the same land. I have already earned Tk 1.28 lakh by selling the produces.”
According to local farmers, the only challenge in ginger cultivation is that the cropland needs to be guarded round the clock as thieves try to steal the expensive crop.
At present, one mound of ginger is being sold at Tk 4,000 at the wholesale market.
“We always encourage the farmers to go for crop diversification. Ginger farming has gained popularity in line to that. Our staff regularly visit the fields and give the farmers necessary suggestions,” said Nikhil Chandra Biswas, deputy director at DAE Nilphamari.