Tomato cultivation has created job opportunities for hundreds of educated youths of the region and it could change the socio-economic condition of the poor if marketing and cost-effective environment-friendly technologies are ensured.
The target of the cash crop farming has been surpassed in Godagari Upazila of the district as it becomes famous for the cash crop by virtue of its better yield attained by the farmers during the last over a decade.
“More than 4,000 hectares of land were brought under the farming only in the upazila this year,” said Monzurul Haque, Additional Deputy Director of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE).
Meanwhile, although the early varieties of tomato are available in local market and it is selling high.
“One kilogram of tomato is being sold at Tk 80 to 100 per kilogram in the local market. It is beyond the purchasing capacity of lower and lower-middle-income people like us,” said Rajina Begum, a housewife living in Sagarpara of Rajshahi city.
The wholesale price of a mound of tomato is now about Tk 2,500 to Tk 3,000, but its price will come down to Tk 100 per maund at the end of this season, tomato traders said.
Mustafizur Rahman, additional director of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), Rajshahi, said tomato farming is gaining popularity in the region, particularly in the vast tract of Barind area, as its cultivation is profitable here.
He said there was no shortage of quality hybrid-tomato seed of various brands this year. Moreover, due to strict control over marketing tomato seeds, no adulterated seed was sold here.
Agriculturist Rahman said tomatoes are widely cultivated in the region. The total land under tomato cultivation doubled in the last seven years, while yield tripled.
Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) developed 10 high yielding and quality varieties and modern technologies for the farmers. The rates of production of the developed varieties are comparatively high and profitable than that of the domestic varieties.
As a result, tomato farmers were able to purchase quality seeds as their requirement. In the meantime, transplanting of tomato saplings has been completed.
Dr Shakhawat Hossain, senior scientific officer of BARI, said the soil and climatic condition of the entire region, including Rajshahi, Natore, Naogaon, and Chapainawabganj, are very suitable for tomato cultivation. “So, it is now widely cultivated on the dry soil of the Barind area.”
The farmers also prefer to cultivate some hybrid varieties of tomato which are high yielding and much more profitable.
Besides, different public and private commercial banks, especially Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank (RKUB), are giving credit to farmers for tomato cultivation.
President of Rajshahi Chamber of Commerce and Industries Md Muniruzzaman said the farmers may incur a loss due to lack of storage facilities here while thousands of tonnes of tomato get perished every year.
He said cold storage and processing plants can store the cash crop aiming to save tomato growers from financial loss.