Despite efforts to discourage tobacco cultivation farmers of Rangpur region are still continuing tobacco cultivation on land to earn more profits.
According to Department of Agricultural Extension, farmers have extensively cultivated tobacco on the dried up riverbeds and char (shoal) land this year.
Horticulture Specialist of the DAE Khondker Md Mesbahul Islam said farmers were still showing interests in tobacco farming mainly to earn more money.
Farmers have so far cultivated tobacco on 14,221 hectares of land in Rangpur. District wise break-up are 2,516 hectares in Rangpur, 240 hectares in Gaibandha, five hectares in Kurigram, 10,745 hectares in Lalmonirhat and 705 hectares in Nilphamari.
The farmers had cultivated tobacco on 17,828 hectares of land in Rangpur division last year against only 12,696 hectares in 2011.
Cultivation of tobacco decreased in recent years as the farmers had cultivated the crop on 33,500 hectares of land during 2009-2010 and on 19,050 hectares during 2010-2011 seasons in the region, the DAE sources said.
Farmers – Echahaq Ali, Aiyub Ali, Azizul Islam and Abdul Khaleque of Kathihara village in Rangpur – said they had cultivated tobacco on 1.5 to 2.5 acres of land this season.
“We cultivate tobacco as the tobacco companies encourage us directly or indirectly through providing necessary inputs, cost-free seedlings and incentives with an assurance of lucrative prices,” they said.
Farmers Mokbul Hossain, Shamsul Haque, Abul Hossain and Yasin said they had cultivated tobacco on more land this season to earn more profits than cultivating other crops.
The farmers said they generally spent Tk20,000 to 22,000 for per acre of land in farming tobacco to produce 20 maund per acre to earn a net profit of over Tk60,000 on an average.
Associate Director (Agriculture) of BRAC International (South Asia and Africa) Dr MA Mazid said farmers could earn more profits by farming wheat, sugarcane and others in relay methods with intercropping of other crops using the latest technologies.