Apart from making farmers financially sound, Cassava – popularly known as Shimul Alu – is helping reduce import of starch and glucose to meet local demands for food industry as well as the garment industry.
Over five thousand farmers have cultivated Cassava on 3,700 acres of land in several districts in contracts with PRAN RFL Group this year.
Under the contract farming agreement, the cultivators are provided with fund to lease lands and purchase fertilizer, seeds and medicines.
Farmers in Mymensingh, Jamalpur, Tangail, Habiganj, Comilla and Khagrachhari districts are producing the root crop to have better earnings from their vested land instead of traditional corps under the contract farming of Cassava.
“From such farming, we expect to purchase 20,000 to 22,000 tonnes of Cassava,” Mahtab Uddin, chief operating officer of PRAN Agro Business Ltd, told the Dhaka Tribune.
He added that farmers knew a little about Cassava farming in Bangladesh but now they are giving much more attention to grow the crops as they are provided with financial support with buy-back grantee.
Bangladesh now meets 50% demand for Cassava-made products locally while the country has a huge opportunity to export such products, meeting an entire local demand, said Mahtab.
The crop can play a vital role in the country’s agriculture sector as it is drought-tolerant, and bears a little risk, he said, adding that the company is mulling over Cassava cultivation on 10,000 acres of land in the years to come considering the demand for the product.
A farmer harvests 7-7.5 tonnes of Cassava cultivating an acre of land while India and other countries produce about 14 tonnes from the same amount of land. A tonne of the crop is sold at Tk7,000 here.
Cassava is used to produce starch and glucose. Its starch is used as raw material for processing food like bread, cake, biscuit, and noodles. Besides, and has now been widely used in garment and pharmaceuticals industries.
“We are not tense about selling our crops as PRAN makes the purchase alongside providing us with financial and logistic support under the contract farming,” Salim Hossain, a farmer of told the Dhaka Tribune while this correspondent visited the Sagar Dighi area in Tangail.
He said he has brought a 100-acre land under Cassava cultivation which was much less two years ago.
“In cultivating other crops, we used to take loans with interest but in this case, the contractors provide funds and buy back our products,” said Abdus Samad, another cultivator.
“Without investment, we can earn about Tk20,000, cultivating Cassava as the contractor provides us all supports.”
To process the Cassava, PRAN set up a processing plant in Habiganj Industrial Park in Shaistaganj of Habiganj with a 350-tonne processing capacity.