The local agriculture office is giving away free nut seedlings, fertilizer and expertise to dissuade farmers from cultivating tobacco
Farmers on the banks of the rivers Sangu and Matamuhuri are busy extracting nuts from the chars on both riversides.
They are reaping quick profits, as nuts are proving to be a rapid moneymaker, since it requires minimal investment.
Locals said nuts that are cultivated on the riverbanks are later dried and transported to various parts of the country to be sold commercially.
Nut seedlings are planted every year from October to the first week of November, and are then extracted between January and April.
The soil in which they are planted are first slightly processed to make the earth lighter, while the weeds are removed.
Then the nut seedlings are planted. Luckily the earth is fertile in the region, which is why applying additional fertilizers or pesticides is not necessary.
The fact that farmers can extract nuts merely three months after planting them is inspiring countless others to take it up as a profession.
Ankanu Marma, a nut cultivator from the district’s Balaghata, said his profit margin is increasing every year.
The reputation of the district’s nuts has led its distribution to expand to most of the districts in the country.
But farmers complained of lack of a marketplace, where they could sell their goods directly to visiting wholesalers. Many alleged they were not receiving fair prices for their produce.
They demanded setting up a marketplace in Bandarban Sadar, so that they could at least get fair prices for their product.
Md Abdus Salam, a farmer in Champatali point near Matamuhuri River, cultivates nuts across a 1.2-acre stretch of land he owns.
The local agriculture office had initially given him 14kg of nut seedlings, as well as fertilizers (all free of cost), to sway him from tobacco cultivation.
According to local agriculture office sources, over 2,021 metric tons of nuts were produced in the district across 971 acres last year.
This year the land stretch has increased to 999 acres.
Currently Tridana, Maijchar, Jhinga, Bina groundnuts and other varieties of nuts are being cultivated, with the assistance of the local Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) office.
Sabera Begum, another farmer near the Matamuhuri River, said she cultivates groundnuts on 0.33 acres of her land. “But this is enough to get Tk40,000-45,000 in profit this season,” she beamed.
Md Omar Faruk, agriculture officer at Bandarban Sadar upazila, said the government had offered free seedlings, as well as training on proper nut cultivation techniques, which will help the local farmers to expand nut cultivation in the near future.