Potato farmers in five northern districts under Rangpur agriculture region are worried at the start of the cultivation season as the most reliable seeds supplied by Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) meets only 3% of the total demand.
“This year, Rangpur regional office of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) set a target of potato cultivation on 91.4 thousand hectares of land to produce 28.6 lakh tonnes of the winter vegetable in Rangpur, Gaibandha, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat and Nilphamari districts,” said Rafiqul Islam, sub assistant agriculture officer at Rangpur DAE office.
Sowing on 14 thousand hectares is already complete as many lands became free after harvest of early variety Aman paddy, he said.
Dr Md Sultanul Alam, deputy director (DD) of seed marketing department of BADC in Rangpur region, said they supplied around 4,000 tonnes of quality potato seeds in the region.
“We sell 25% seeds directly to farmers and rest through 732 dealers.” Price of BADC’s ‘A’ grade asterix variety potato seeds is Tk 28 a kg and that of ‘B’ grade is Tk 25.50,” he said.
Quality seeds supplied by BADC comprises around 3% of the region’s total need of potato seeds, which is 1.37 lakh tonnes, said Md Moniruzzaman, DD of DAE in Rangpur regional office.
He, however, claimed that there is nothing to worry as farmers sow popular local variety seeds preserved in cold storages in vast areas of targeted land and for the rest, they buy high yielding variety seeds from renowned NGOs or companies like Brac, Syngenta, ACI, Square, and Ispahani.
Sreedam Das, president of district unit of Krishok Samity, said farmers prefer BADC seeds as those are cultivated and preserved in scientific way, virus and fungus free and high yielding.
Abul Ala Moududi, seed certification officer in Nilphamari, said, “Most of the potato seeds in the market are of below standard and sold without seed certification tags.
Visiting Dhelapir Haat of Nilphamari and Taraganj Haat in Rangpur, this correspondent found that 80-kg bags of potato seeds, kept without certification tags, were selling for Tk 2,000 to Tk 2,400 each.
Several farmers in those markets said they have to buy low quality seeds as quality seeds of BADC are scarce.
Additional director of regional DAE, Mohammad Ali said, “Despite want of quality potato seeds, there will be no problem to achieve the production target.”