Patches of yellow fields on the green hills of Rangamati have brought smiles to the farmers of the Chattogram Hill Tracts (CHT) district as they expect a better yield of jhum paddy this year.
“This year, the weather was favourable for Jhum cultivation as it rained at the right time. So, the yield is good,” said Chai Shu Aung Marma of Sita Pahar area in Kaptai upazila.
Chai, who was cutting paddy with the help of two family members on Friday morning, hopes to get 15 maunds of rice this year from one bigha of his land compared to the 10 maunds he got last year.
Indigenous jhum cultivators of Chattogram Hill Tracts (CHT) prepare their fields and sow seeds in April and harvest the crop from September to November.
Commonly practiced by indigenous peoples of South Asia, in jhum agriculture system a small patch of land is cleared and cultivated for a short period, then left abandoned until the land reverts to its natural vegetation, while the farmer cultivates another plot.
Visiting some jhum fields in Boradom, Kamilachari and Manikchari of Mogbaan union under Rangamati Sadar upazila and Sita Pahar area of Kaptai upazila, this correspondent saw farmers harvesting varieties of scented paddy including Hoborok, Rengui Dhan, Dhub Pattigi, Ranga Pattigi, Mumboi, Amei, Bhuppoi, Kamarang, Horingbini, Bandoronagbini and Laxmibini.
A villager of Boradom, Jyoti Chakma, who started jhum paddy harvest two days back, told this correspondent that the yield is good this year.
“With the jhum paddy I also cultivated maize, sesame, pumpkin, chili, eggplant and cucumber in the jhum farm. This year, I earned Tk 30,000 by selling the vegetables,” he said, hoping that he can feed his family for the entire year.
Besides rice, other crops and vegetables are sown on the same jhum plots, where ploughs are not used, explained locals.
In addition to Rangamati Sadar and Kaptai, jhum harvest has started in Baghaichhari, Barkal, Jurachhari, Rajasthali, Kawkhali and Bilaichhari upazilas of the district, said officials of Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Rangamati.
According to Rangamati DAE, this year jhum cultivation has been done on 5,960 hectares of land compared to 5,500 hectares last year.
Paban Kumar Chakma, deputy director of Rangamati DAE, said, it is expected that about 1.5 tonnes of jhum paddy per hectare of land will be produced in the district this year, while last year it was 1.2 tonnes per hectare.