A target of farming sunflower on 265 hectares of land had been fixed to produce 555 tons of oil seeds for the region
Braving the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, farmers achieved a super bumper output of 1,407 tons of sunflower seeds, 154 percent higher against the fixed production target, in Rangpur agriculture region.
Officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) said a target of farming sunflower on 265 hectares of land had been fixed to produce 555 tons of oil seeds for the region during the just-ended Rabi season.
“However, farmers had cultivated the crop on 1,407 hectares of land in the region exceeding the fixed farming target by 5.31 times or 431 percent,” Additional Director of the DAE at its regional office Agriculturist Bibhubhushan Roy told BSS on Wednesday.
Earlier, the DAE provided incentive and post-flood agriculture rehabilitation assistance to 14,300 farmers of Rangpur, Gaibandha, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat and Nilphamari districts in the region in terms of seeds and fertilisers free of cost to expand sunflower cultivation.
“After completing harvest of sunflower recently, farmers produced 1,407 tons of the oil seeds at the average yield rate of two tons per hectare of land, also exceeding the fixed production target by 852 tons or 154 percent,” Roy said.
After getting a lucrative market price of sunflower seeds in the previous years and getting special assistance from the government, farmers brought more land under sunflower farming across the region.
“During the previous season, farmers cultivated sunflowers on only 75 hectares of land and produced 150 tons of the oil seeds in the region when they sold their produce at Tk 80 per kilogram,” Roy added.
Unfortunately, farmers are not getting fair prices for sunflower seeds as local middlemen are taking the advantage of its bumper production and willing to purchase the produce at only Tk 50 per kg to make windfall profits.
Under such a situation, the DAE is assisting farmers in preserving their produced oil seeds and also trying to help them in producing oil from sunflower seeds by crushing those using the power-run mechanised ‘Ghani’ that generally produces mustard oil.
Talking to BSS, farmer Dilip Kumar of village Dakshin Hajipur in Taraganj upazila of Rangpur said he had cultivated sunflower on one bigha of land in a block of two acres of land after getting seeds and fertilisers as special incentives for the first time.
Like Dilip, farmers Majibar Rahman, Feroz Ahmed and Ali Ahmad of the village had cultivated sunflowers for the first time on one bigha of land each after getting 1.50 kg of seeds, 10 kg of DAP and 10 kg of MOP fertilisers.
They got a bumper production of sunflower seeds this year and urged the authorities concerned to take necessary steps for ensuring fair price of their production.
Talking to BSS, Taraganj Upazila Agriculture Officer of the DAE Agriculturist Urmi Tabassum said the DAE is trying its best to assist farmers in selling their produced sunflower seeds at fair prices like that of the previous year.
“However, some oilseed traders, who purchased sunflower seeds at TK 80 per kg last year, are not willing to buy the seeds above the rate of Taka 50 per kg this year,” she said.
“Considering interest of farmers and ensuring fair price of sunflower seeds, we are trying to produce its oil locally and popularise its consumption aiming at expanding cultivation of the crop to attain self-reliance on locally produced edible oils,” she added.