The attractive vegetable to the consumers has been appearing in different local markets for the last couple of weeks
Facing Covid-19 challenges, many farmers in Rajshahi and Khulna this year found tomato farming to be a fortune changer as the lucrative vegetable made many peasants solvent besides significantly infusing dynamism into the local economy.
According to sources, the farmers are very enthusiastic and optimistic over its high market prices and suitable climatic conditions despite the novel coronavirus pandemic situation.
The attractive vegetable to the consumers has been appearing in different local markets for the last couple of weeks.
In Rajshahi, the target for winter tomato production is set on 3,500 hectares of land in the district. Out of nine upazilas, tomatoes are cultivated on 2,250 hectares of land only in Godagari upazila, reports our Rajshahi correspondent Dulal Abdullah.
This upazila is famous for tomato cultivation and local farmers produce two-thirds of the country's tomatoes every year.
According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), tomatoes of the area have been contributing to the national economy for almost two decades.
Thousands of farmers in Godagari have become self-sufficient through cultivating only tomatoes.
Godagari DAE sources said during the current season, the farmers mainly cultivated different varieties of tomatoes like Nasib, NL-642, Slamot-83, Bongio, Mintu Super, Bizli, and few others in different areas across the whole upazila.
In the current season, the cash crop has brought smiles on the faces of the farmers as they are getting expected yield and market price since the very beginning of the harvesting period.
The tomatoes produced without chemicals are being sent to different districts including the capital Dhaka after meeting the local demands.
Ziarul Islam, a farmer of Ishwaripur village, said he has cultivated two hybrid varieties of tomatoes on one and half bigha of land spending Tk1 lakh.
In the last two weeks, he sold tomatoes worth Tk 30,000 and wholesalers as well as retailers are buying the tomatoes from his land at Tk60-65 per kilogram.
“Platform-cultivated tomatoes have a demand here as they mature on plants and there is no need of using any chemical for ripening,” he said.
Saiful Islam, 47, a farmer of Pirijpur village under the upazila, said he has cultivated some high yielding varieties which have good demand in the markets.
He said tomatoes are being sold at Tk1,800 to 2,000 per maund in wholesale markets at present.
Jahedul Islam, another farmer of Bidirpur village, said many farmers have already changed their fortunes through tomato cultivation in the region. They can earn between Tk25,000 to Tk35,000 by cultivating tomatoes on each bigha of land in a season.
“Tomato farming is gaining popularity in the region, particularly in the vast tract of Barind area, since its cultivation is seen profitable as here,” said Sirajul Islam, additional director of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Rajshahi.
Tomatoes, which are now considered as the second cash crop of the region, plays an important role in economy, Sirajul Islam said.
More than one lakh families in the region are now getting direct financial benefit from either cultivating tomatoes or its trading, he added.
Remarkable numbers of employment are generated centering tomato farming and its trading every year.
Principal Scientific Officer of Fruit Research Station Dr Alim Uddin said the soil and climate condition of the entire region, including Rajshahi, Natore, Naogaon, and Chapainawabganj, are very suitable for tomato cultivation.
In Khulna, farmers are cultivating tomatoes successfully in the district upon getting its good yield and better prices in the market.
This year vegetable cultivators in the district have geared up the farming of different early winter vegetables, including tomatoes, and made vigorous efforts to get expected output as well as handsome profits from the sale of their produce, said our Khulna correspondent Hedayet Hossain Molla.
Solayman Haque, a grower of tomatoes in Dumuria upazila, said he prefers farming vegetables due to high profits in comparison to many other crops.
He also said Tk1.5 lakh can be earned from one bigha land by spending only Tk25, 000.
He cultivated tomatoes on 40 decimals of land this season. During the last few years he has been getting a satisfactory yield as well as good profit from farming of the vegetable, he added.
Deputy Director of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Khulna Md Hafizur Rahman said tomatoes were cultivated on 901 hectares of land last year in nine upazilas of the district.
This year the vegetable has been cultivated on 920 hectares of land, he added.
Mosaddek Hossain, agriculture officer of Dumuria upazila,said tomatoes have been cultivated on 120 hectares of land this season in the upazila.
Satisfactory prices as well as huge demand have encouraged the cultivators to cultivate it on a large scale this year, Mosaddek Hossain added.