Farmers of Rangpur’s char lands eying bumper pumpkin output...

Dhaka, Thursday   21 January 2021

Farmers of Rangpur’s char lands eying bumper pumpkin output

 Rangpur Correspondent

 Published: 01:37 PM, 5 December 2020   Updated: 02:16 PM, 5 December 2020

Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

Many flood-affected farmers are eying a bumper pumpkin production on char lands with a hope to recoup the crop losses they incurred during recent floods in Rangpur agriculture region. 

According to officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) and NGOs, an increasing number of landless char and riverside people are sowing seeds of pumpkin and other Rabi crops on sandy char lands and dried-up riverbeds in the region. 

After getting repeated bumper production and better prices in recent years, char people are farming pumpkins with other winter crops in relay-methods on more char lands to earn huge profits this season.

The DAE, Practical Action Bangladesh (PAB), RDRS Bangladesh, Gano Unnayan Kendra, Solidarity and many other NGOs are assisting the char people to promote pumpkin farming on the char lands to change their fortune. 

Senior Coordinator (Agriculture and Environment) of RDRS Bangladesh Agriculturist Mamunur Rashid said more than 50,000 poor char and riverside families have already changed their fortune through farming pumpkins with other crops.

With assistance of the DAE and RDRS Bangladesh alone, more than 25,000 char families have expanded pumpkin cultivation on char lands in around 300 char villages of all five districts in the Rangpur agriculture region.

“The char people are continuing to sow pumpkin seeds on sandy char lands and silted-up beds of the Brahmaputra, Teesta, Dharla, Kartoa, Ghaghot and other rivers to harvest the crop from March to May next,” Rashid added. 

Manager (Agriculture) of PAB Agriculturist Nirmal Chandra Bepari said the organisation extended project assistance to some 23,000 char families with the support of the DAE for expanding pumpkin cultivation on sandbars in 200 villages since 2009. 

“Even after the expiry of the project three years back, char families are producing pumpkins to the tune of over 1.40 lakh tonnes worth over Tk 145 crore annually with Taka 10 per kg price at the farmers’ level in the region,” he added. 

Morsheda Begum, Kobiza Khatun, Aminul Islam and Mahbub Alam of Char Paschim Mohipur village in Gangachara upazila of Rangpur said they have won extreme poverty through farming pumpkin with other crops in relay-methods. 

They are cultivating pumpkins with other crops like onion, garlic, vegetables, green chili, squash, potato, brinjal, sweet potato and other Rabi crops on the sandy char lands and dried-up riverbeds of the Teesta this season. 

“We spend Tk 15,000 to 16,000 for farming pumpkin on 200 sandbars each to sell the produce around Tk 40,000 and earn a net profit of about Tk 25,000 annually after completing harvest by May,” said farmer Abdur Razzaque of the same village.

Hossain Ali of Dhushmara Char in Kawnia Upazila of Rangpur said he sowed pumpkin seeds for 4,000 plants on sandbars on the dried-up Teesta riverbed with a hope to earn Tk 1.50 lakh this season. 

“Everyone in our village is expanding cultivation of pumpkin with other winter crops on the dried-up sandy riverbed,” he added. 

Acting Additional Director of the DAE for Rangpur region Agriculturist Md Moniruzzaman said expanded cultivation of pumpkin with other Rabi crops have improved the livelihoods of many char people in the last 12 years. 

“The tender plants of earlier varieties of pumpkin are growing superbly amid favourable climatic conditions on the char lands predicting its bumper production this season in the region,” he added. - BSS