Rangpur farmers produce record 42,802 tonnes of sweet potato
RANGPUR, June 1, 2023 (BSS)-Farmers have produced an all-time record 42,802 tonnes of sweet potato in all five districts under Rangpur agriculture region during the just-ended 2022-2023 Robi season.
Meanwhile, farmers are happy getting high prices of sweet potato between Taka 1,400 and Taka 1,550 per mound (every 40 kgs) in local markets depending on varieties and quality to reap rewarding profits.
Officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) said, a target to produce 44,426 tonnes of sweet potato from 1,957 hectares of land was fixed for Rangpur, Gaibandha, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat and Nilphamari districts in the region.
However, farmers cultivated the crop on 1,641 hectares of land, less by 316 hectares of land against the fixed farming target, due to cultivation of winter vegetables, maize and potato on more land.
After completing harvest recently, farmers produced an all-time record 42,802 tonnes of sweet potato this time, higher by 5,651 tonnes against the production of 37,151 tonnes of the crop achieved during the previous 2021-2022 Robi season in the region.
Additional Director of the DAE for Rangpur region Md. Aftab Hossain said char and riverside people and farmers are expanding cultivation of highly profitable sweet potato in sandy-barren char lands and mainland every year.
"The sandy-loamy and sandy lands are suitable for sweet potato farming which requires no fertilisers and irrigation water," he said.
Talking to BSS, landless Anwar Hossain, Majibar Rahman and Abul Kashem of village Char Mohipur in Gangachara upazila of Rangpur said they cultivated sweet potato in sandy char lands and got bumper production with lucrative prices this time.
Deputy Director of the DAE for Rangpur Md. Obaidur Rahman Mandal said efforts are on to further increase production of sweet potato by imparting training and providing latest technologies to the char people.
Agriculturist Dr M A Mazid, who got Independence Award in 2018 in food security category, said an adult person can meet daily demand of 13 gram vitamin-A by consuming a single sweet potato.
“Sweet potato contains vitamin A and C and mineral elements, which are absent in rice. It is enriched with protein, carbohydrate, calcium, iron, carotene and vitamin B1 and B2, which are essential for the human body,” he said.
The people of Philippines and Papua New Guinea, some African and Latin American countries consume sweet potato as an alternative to rice while in the USA and Japan it is widely used as food, he added.
The people living in riverine char areas of Rangpur agriculture region are farming sweet potato in sandy and sandy-loamy lands, char lands and riverbeds and widely consuming the produce as alternative foodstuff like in many other countries.
"If we can make common people habituated to sweet potato consumption, we can largely reduce pressure on rice," Dr Mazid said, adding that more steps should be taken to make people aware in this regard.
He especially called for increasing sweet potato production and changing food habits to reduce pressure on rice as sweet potato has the same carbohydrate, more nutrients and vitamins than many other major foods like rice.