RAJSHAHI: Over 5.67 lakh tonnes of maize yield are expected to be produced from 55,200 hectares of land in all eight districts under Rajshahi division during the current Rabi season.
At present, the grassroots farmers are now on the final stage of sowing seeds amid the suitable climate conditions everywhere in the region.
Principal Scientific Officer of Bangladesh Wheat and Maize Research Institute (BWMRI) Dr Ilias Hossain said maize is being used in preparation of various nutritional foods like corn-well, corn-flex, poultry and animal feed and fodder and in several industrial products as well.
The demand for the crop is on the rise with the increase of the poultry and dairy farms as it contains huge Vitamin-A, he pointed out.
Dr Hossain said maize is highly beneficial to human health.
BWMRI has released five high yielding maize varieties and two of those- BARI Hybrid Bhutta-12 and 13- are both heat and drought tolerant. So, these are becoming popular in the growers' level of the region.
Meanwhile, Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) has set the target of producing around 3.40 lakh tonnes of maize from 32,550 hectares of land in four districts of Rajshahi Agricultural Zone, while 2.28 lakh tonnes from 22,650 hectares of land in four other districts of Bogura Agricultural Zone.
He said 59,000 small and marginal farmers were given seeds and fertilizers worth around Taka 5.19 crore free of cost for the maize farming under the government's agricultural incentive programme.
Shahadat Hossain, a farmer of Chowbaria village under Godagari upazila, said he has brought two bighas of land under the maize farming during the current season.
He is very happy with cultivating various less-water consuming crops like maize.
He said he had to face many troubles to manage water for irrigation on boro fields but the maize cultivation takes less water.
Hossain said wheat cultivation on per bigha of land needs at least Taka 8,000, and the yield is 14 to 16 maunds. On the contrary, maize farming on one bigha of land needs Taka 6,500 and the yield is at least 20 to 25 maunds. So, he cultivated maize on 15 bighas of land this season.
Golam Faruque, another farmer of Nandigram village under Durgapur Upazila, has cultivated maize on five bigha of land and some of his cultivated land has started getting a greenish look with growing plants.
Faruque got 15 to 17 mounds yield from per bigha of land and sold at Taka 600 to 650 per maund in the last harvesting season.
Many other fellow farmers expect better yield as suitable weather prevails here now. Another farmer Karimul Haque of Dharmahata village used to cultivate Boro paddy during the last 30 years. But, this season, he has cultivated maize on 10 bighas of land instead of Boro paddy.
DAE Deputy Director Abdul Awal said that maize cultivation both in rabi and kharif seasons in the region has been increasing gradually as the farmers are showing more interest in this crop cultivation.
But the farmers are now more interested in maize farming just after harvesting the potato in the Kharif-1 season for the last couple of years.
He said there was no scarcity of seeds this time as huge quantities of seeds were distributed among the farmers and they timely completed sowing of maize seeds.