RANGPUR: Farmers have produced 35,949 tonnes of sweet potato exceeding the fixed production target by 1,279 tonnes of crop in Rangpur agriculture region during the just-ended Rabi season.
Market sources said farmers are happy with the lucrative market price of sweet potato between Taka 950 and 1,000 per every 40-kg (mound) now depending on varieties and qualities.Officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) said a target of producing 34,670 tonnes of sweet potato was fixed from 1,685 hectares of land for all five districts of Rangpur, Gaibandha, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat and Nilphamari in the region this time.
However, farmers had cultivated the crop on 1,780 hectares of land exceeding the fixed farming target by 1,869 hectares or 9.14 percent after getting government assistance to recoup the crop losses they incurred during last year’s floods, reports BSS.
“Despite cultivation of vegetables, maize and potato on more land, farmers exceeded the fixed farming target of sweet potato and achieved its bumper production,” Additional Director of the DAE at its regional office Agriculturist Bibhubhushan Roy said.
Senior Coordinator (Agriculture and Environment) of RDRS Bangladesh Agriculturist Mamunur Rashid said many char people are farming sweet potato on sandy-barren and char lands side by side with farmers in the mainland in recent years.
“The sandy-loamy and sandy lands are suitable for sweet potato farming and there is a brighter prospect of enhancing cultivation of the low-cost crop without using fertilisers and irrigation water on char lands,” he said.
Production of sweet potato could be increased largely by imparting training, providing latest technologies and easy-term agri-loans to char people of Rangpur region.“Sweet potato contains vitamin A and C and mineral elements, which are absent in rice. It is enriched with protein, carbohydrate, calcium, iron, carotene and vitamin B1 and B2, which are essential for the human body,” Rashid said.
Agriculturist Dr M A Mazid, who got Independence Award 2018 in food security category, said an adult person can meet the daily demand of 13 gram vitamin-A by consuming a single moderate sized sweet potato.
People of the Philippines and Papua New Guinea, some African and Latin American countries consume sweet potato as an alternative to rice while in the USA and Japan it is widely used as food.
“People living in riverine char areas of Rangpur region are farming sweet potato on char lands along with widely consuming the produce as alternative foodstuff like in many other countries,” Dr Mazid said.
Many tasty foods like ‘halua’, ‘payesh’, bread, ‘pauruti’, biscuit, pastry and cake could be produced through processing sweet potato with other ingredients for its devitrified consumption.
“We can greatly reduce pressure on rice by inspiring people in consuming sweet potato,” Dr Mazid said, adding that steps should be taken in this regard as the changed climatic conditions are affecting cultivation and production of cereal crops.
He especially called for consuming more sweet potatoes by changing food habits to reduce pressure on rice as sweet potatoes have the same carbohydrate, more nutrients and vitamins than many other major foods like rice.