Record potato production in Thakurgaon, Panchagarh expected
Agriculture officials and potato growers are expecting to achieve a record potato production in Thakurgaon and Panchagrh in the ongoing season of harvest.
Along with more acreage than the target, the growers are getting good yield as they were able to save crop fields from pest attack and diseases using their experience and knowledge during adverse weather in mid-winter.
Despite getting good yield, the growers are worried about making good profit as the market price of the item is on downward trend at present.
After repaying loans by selling a portion of produces, the small and marginal growers who want to preserve the rest amount in cold storages are facing trouble for storing it as they could not collect advance slips for potato preservation since the large-scale farmers, traders and hoarders have already collected the slips earlier.
According to the sources of Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), the growers cultivated potato on 28,515 hectares of land against the target of 24,670 hectares with the production target of 5,92,080 tonnes in Thakurgaon.
The growers have already harvested 5,02,370 tonnes of potato from 21,108 hectares.
In Panchagarh, 9,950 hectares of land have been cultivated against the target of 9,750 hectares with the production target of 2,24,250 tonnes.
The farmers have harvested potato on 9,810 hectares of land and reaped 2,21,019 tonnes.
The DAE officials and growers said the acreage of potato cultivation has increased this season as they got higher price than that of previous years.
During a recent visit to different villages in Thakurgaon and Panchagarh districts, this correspondent saw the farmers passing busy days in harvesting potato.
Md Rasel, 35, a farmer of Nargoon village, said he cultivated potato on one acre of land and got about two tonnes of potato.
In first phase, he sold potato directly from the field at Tk 12 per kg about a week ago but the price has come down to Tk 9.75 on Saturday.
Replying a query, Rasel said he spent about Tk 75,000 for cultivating the crop. If the price continues going down, he would not get a good profit.
Replying to a query, he said he had to sell a portion of his produces to repay loans which he took at the beginning of potato cultivation. Though he has about a tonne of potatoes for preserving but he could not collect slips earlier due to financial constraints.
Sazzad Selim, 50, of Rosea village in Atwary upazila of Panchagarh, who cultivated potato on nine acres of land, is expecting to get over a tonne of potato from each acre. He has collected slips earlier aiming to preserve his produces in cold storage and sell it later for higher profit.
DAE office sources said, there are 16 cold storages in Thakurgaon having a capacity to preserve 1,36,550 tonnes of potato while Panchagarh has six cold storages that can store 31,240 tonnes.
Delwar Hossain, managing director of Shahi Group who has four cold storages in Thakurgaon, said they provided advance slips among farmers for preserving about 35,000 tonnes of potato.
Replying to a query, Delwar said we have provided slips on the basis of 'first come, first serve'.
Acting Deputy Director of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) Sirajul Islam said this year potato has been cultivated in greater areas this season than the previous and the farmers have successfully overcome the threat of late blight and other diseases using their long experience in potato cultivation.
Besides, climatic condition was also good in the current season. So hopefully the production target will be exceeded and the ongoing harvesting result is already showing it, he added.