RAJSHAHI: Around 73,582 tonnes of lentils are expected to be produced from 55,088 hectares of land in the division during the current Rabi season, officials said.
Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) has set the target of producing 45,468 tonnes of lentil from 31,258 hectares of land in four districts of its Rajshahi Agricultural Zone, while 28,114 tonnes from 19,830 hectares of land in four other districts of Bogura zone.
Some 9,000 farmers were given seed and fertiliser support worth around Taka 13.05 crore for lentil farmers free of cost under the government’s agriculture incentive programme.
Sub Assistant Agriculture Officer Atanu Sarker told that the farmers are seen getting better yield of the cash crop for the last couple of years as a result of promoting high yielding varieties and modern management.
All the government and non-government entities concerned are motivating the farmers for farming various water-saving crops including lentil in the Barind area to lessen the gradually mounting pressure on underground water, he said.
More than 1,500 volunteers are engaged towards encouraging and inspiring farmers to cultivate the less water consuming crops through water resource management on behalf of the ‘Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM)’ Project.
Farmers have started showing interest in lentil cultivation as they reaped a lucrative market price of the crop in the last couple of years, said IWRM Project Coordinator Jahangir Alam Khan.
Monir Ahmed, a farmer of Polashbari village under Godagari Upazila, said he is cultivating lentils to avoid hassle in getting irrigation water for paddy.
He said he has cultivated lentils on six-bigha of land this year without spending extra money for irrigation.
A farmer can get five to six maunds of lentil from per bigha of land. One maund of lentil is now being sold at Tk 4,000 to 4,300 in local markets, he said.
Jakir Hossain, another farmer of Hatibandha village, said the growers here are showing more interest in lentil cultivation as it does not take much irrigation cost. Besides, they got abundant production in the last couple of years.
Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute’s principal scientific officer Dr Jagadish Chandra Barman said huge lentil output is possible in the Barind region if it is cultivated on around 80,000 hectares of land, which usually remains fallow for more than three months after the harvest of transplanted Aman paddy every year.
He said the cultivation of pulse has been playing a significant role in crop intensity and diversification as the cash crop is short-term and it could be cultivated easily on the rice- based cropping pattern.
Referring to the immense prospect of the crop, he also said that if the yield could be enhanced to the expected level through successful expansion of the modern cultivation method among the growers, the country’s hard-earned foreign currencies would be saved.
The country has to import a huge quantity of pulses, especially lentils to meet its domestic demand. Since there is a bright prospect of increasing its acreage, lentils could be produced in larger amounts with less production cost and the yield will no doubt lessen pressure on import.