RANGPUR: The decreasing trend of tobacco cultivation continues in all five districts of Rangpur agriculture region in the last 10 years as a result of growing awareness among the farmers about the negative impacts of tobacco products, reports BSS.
Officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) said farmers are showing less interest in tobacco cultivation and bringing more crop lands under farming of different substitute crops also to improve public health and environment.“Despite declination in the number of farmers in tobacco cultivation, many of them are still cultivating the crop getting lucrative incentives from some tobacco companies,” Deputy Director of the DAE at its regional office Agriculturist Md Moniruzzaman said.
The DAE, other agriculture and environment related departments and institutions and NGOs are conducting motivational activities to discourage farmers in tobacco cultivation to save soil fertility, public health and the environment from hazards and pollution.
“However, farmers have brought 13,539 hectares of land under tobacco cultivation during this 2019-2020 FY in Rangpur agriculture region where they cultivated the crop on 13,787 hectares of land during the 2018-2019 FY,” Moniruzzaman said.
Earlier, farmers cultivated tobacco on 13,058 hectares of land during the
2017-2018 FY, 14,225 hectares during the 2016-2017 FY, 16,407 hectares during the 2015-2016 FY and on 18,265 hectares of land during the 2014-2015 FY in the region.
“The farmers cultivated tobacco on 19,057 hectares of land during the 2013-2014 FY, 17,793 hectares during 2012-2013 FY, 12,665 hectares during the 2011-2012 FY, 19,040 hectares during the 2010-2011 FY and on 33,049 hectares of land during the 2009-2010 FY in the region,” he added.Farmers Aiyub Ali, Yasin Ali, Dulal Hossain and Abdul Khaleque of Kathihara village in Rangpur Sadar upazila said they have cultivated tobacco on one acre to three acres of land this season like in the previous years.
All of them cultivated tobacco and earned excellent profits last year when tobacco companies purchased tobacco at rates between Taka 105 and 110 per kg.
Like in the previous years, they have cultivated tobacco on their crop lands after getting incentives, necessary inputs, cost-free seedlings and fertilisers as well as assurance of lucrative price of their produced tobacco leaves from different tobacco companies.
However, farmers Echhahaq Ali, Yakub Ali and Azizul Haque of the same village said they left tobacco cultivation three years ago and started cultivating other winter crops to save public health and environment despite tobacco farming is highly profitable.
Senior Coordinator (Agriculture and Environment) of RDRS Bangladesh
Agriculturist Mamunur Rashid said tobacco cultivation continues as the companies, related to tobacco, are encouraging farmers in farming tobacco that poses a threat to public health and environment.
“The farmers can even earn more profits by farming wheat, mustard and sugarcane with other winter crops in relay methods using latest technologies instead of framing tobacco,” Rashid added.
Additional Director of the DAE in Rangpur region Agriculturist Muhammad Ali suggested farmers to cultivate substitute crops to tobacco for earning more profits along with ensuring food security to save human health and environment.