The high production costs of paddy, labour crisis, and repeated disasters in the region have prompted the growers into farming such crops
Farmers in Sunamganj are now cultivating maize, mustard and sunflower as alternatives to paddy, since they went through huge losses in a couple of paddy seasons due mainly to natural calamities.
The high production costs of paddy, labour crisis, and repeated disasters in the region have prompted the growers into farming such crops.
This year farmers cultivated mustard on 2,115 hectares of land, maize on 427 hectares and sunflower on 270 hectares, which are higher than last year’s, according to the local office of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE).
Deepak Kumar Bishwas, upazila agriculture officer of Bishwambarpur in Sunamganj, said that farmers in the region were facing natural calamities almost every year, which badly damaged paddy.
In light of ground realities, the government was encouraging farmers to cultivate other crops capable of surviving in rough weather, so that they could minimize losses and make profits, he added.
"Alternative crop farming has been gaining popularity among farmers because of low production costs and comparatively higher prices in the market," said Deepak, who added that profit in paddy cultivation was uncertain.
Talking to this correspondent, several farmers in the region said that they were feeling relaxed in cultivating alternative crops as the risk of damaging the crops and incurring losses was lower compared to paddy cultivation.
Khasru Mia, a farmer from Dhanpur union, said that he cultivated maize and made a four-fold profit than paddy last year. This year, he hopes to have the same outcome.
Maize farming took a shorter time and produced a high yield, he added.
Moti Miah, another farmer, said that he could not meet even production costs in paddy as labour, fertilizers and pesticides involved high costs.
Moreover, they did not get fair prices for their products in the market, which discouraged them a lot, he added.
"I am cultivating mustard and sunflower now and it has a good demand in the market," said Moti.
Farmers were cultivating Supershine, Miracle, Everest, Kohinur and Bari varieties of maize, Highshine sunflower and Bina and Bari-10, 14, 15, 16 varieties of mustard in the region.
The government has provided seeds and fertilizers to 6,700 farmers for boosting crop cultivation in the region.
Former Dhanpur UP Chairman Rafiqul Islam Talukder said alternative crops cultivation in the region would gain further popularity if the government helped more farmers through providing seeds and fertilizers.