A salinity-tolerant variety of jute sees successful cultivation in Kalapara upazila under the district, much to the happiness of farmers and agriculture officials.
"Once jute was cultivated in the area but the lands gradually became unfit for growing common varieties of jute due to increase of salinity. We invented a salinity tolerant variety of jute that has already been approved by National Seed Board," Dr Mahmud Al Hossain, acting scientific officer of the Jute Research Institute at Pakhimara village in Kalapara upazila.
"We arranged cultivation of this new variety at farmers' level this year and initially about 25 acres of land of 250 farmers in five villages under the upazila have been brought under the cultivation of salinity tolerant jute.
"As the variety is growing well, more farmers are showing interest to cultivate the cash crop. We have a plan to introduce salinity tolerant jute on vast areas as there is 1.55 lakh hectares of salinity-prone land in Patuakhali district.
"Besides, around 10 lakh six thousand hectares of land in 18 coastal districts remain uncultivated due to salinity. Cultivation of salinity tolerant jute there would bring good profit to farmers," he said.
"Now we hope to cultivate jute again as officials are providing seeds of its salinity tolerant variety," said Md Sultan Gazi, a farmer of Pakhimara village.
To motivate local farmers to cultivate jute and provide required training for the purpose, the Ministry of Agriculture set up Jute Research Institute on 10 acres of land at Pakhimara village beside Patuakhali-Kuakata road in 2001.