BSS, Rajshahi : Farmers and other officials concerned are very much hopeful about cherished potato production in the region as overall climatic condition remains favorable towards the farming since its initial stage. To recoup the loss incurred in the previous year caused by low market price, the farmers in the current season have cultivated potato on more lands than the target fixed by the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) everywhere in eight districts under Rajshahi division. Saleh Ahemd, Upazila Agriculture Officer, said the farmers are expecting better yield as there was no major natural calamity that can damage its outputs. However, the cold wave that sweeping in the region for the last couple of days makes the potato growers apprehended over their farming. Most of the growers’ harvested better yields of potato in last two to three years and they also obtained expected sale proceeds in the harvesting stage. “I had sold out an 85-kg potato bag at Taka 750 to 800 in previous season. But, afterwards the price had declined abnormally. Many farmers incurred huge loss,” said Ziarul Haque, a farmer of Baya village under Paba Upazila. In that situation, many of them apprehended that the acreage might be reduced. But that not happened. To recoup the previous year’s loss, the farmers cultivated potato on more lands in this season. Abdur Rahim, a farmer of Bargachhi village, said both acreage and yield were boosted up in the wake of favorable climatic condition and availability of standard seed in the region. This season, he along with his sons cultivated potato on around 150 bigha of land. “We are very much optimistic over our outcomes as the weather was absolutely supportive”. Abdur Rahim said more potatoes are being produced than that of capacity of the cold storages in the region. In this odd situation, many farmers are compelled to sell their harvested crops in low price that is discouraged to them. He said there is a need of enhancing the number of cold storages for betterment of the potato growers. Potato farming has now been expanded to the dried lands in the vast Barind tract as a result of irrigation facilities promoted by the Barind Multipurpose Development Authorities (BMDA). There has been a better position in all the farming fields predicting expected yields. The DAE has fixed a target of producing 30,48,600 tonnes of potato from 1,52,430 hectares of land in eight districts during this Rabi season. But, the optimistic farmers have brought 1,67,374 hectares under potato farming from where more than 33.47 lakh tonnes are expected, official sources said. Ekram Hossain, Additional Director of DAE, said the officials, experts and other organisations concerned have been providing necessary suggestions to the farmers to face the cold wave situation so that the growing potato fields are not affected by late bright disease.
Currently, early variety potato has appeared in the local markets in plenty with more or less better prices benefiting the growers in the northern region, markets sources said. But, the price is gradually declining which is beneficial for the consumers but harmful for the farmers, sources added. Many of the farmers said potato farming could become more profitable if adequate preservation facilities were ensured and potato-based agri-industries set up besides enhancing exports.