Md. Magem Ali Molin.
The flood water has started falling. Aman paddy is being cut in muddy water. After clearing the land after harvesting the paddy, the farmers of Chalanbil have started planting white gold and famous spice crop garlic on the muddy soil with the burden of debt on their shoulders. Although the main crop is garlic, the farmers of Chalanbil area are still holding on to this crop as there is some benefit in the cultivation of the companion crop, Bangi.
Speaking to farmers in the Chalon-sur-Sane region, he said that the cost of production of garlic has increased several times as compared to previous years due to increase in prices of agricultural inputs even though the price of garlic was not fair. As a result, 30 to 40 thousand rupees per bigha is being spent on garlic cultivation in the current season. Moreover, due to increase in prices of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation, weeding and labor, the cost of cultivating garlic this year is 6 to 7 thousand rupees more than last year.
According to the Natore Department of Agricultural Extension, the target for garlic cultivation in Chalanbil has been set at 24,600 hectares this year. Among them, garlic cultivation target has been set at 22,300 hectares in Gurudaspur, Baraigram, Tarash, Chatmohar and Singra of Chalanbil. In each bigha, 12 thousand rupees for seeds, 10 thousand rupees for fertilizers and pesticides, 6 thousand rupees for labor and 6 thousand rupees for irrigation. Besides, small sharecroppers are cultivating garlic at a higher cost with lease of 10 to 12 thousand rupees per bigha of land.
Abul Hossain, 50, a farmer from Dharabarisha village in Gurudaspur upazila, said he has cultivated garlic on 5 bighas of land this year. The cost per bigha for seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation is 24,000 rupees. Labor cost including sowing and weeding has been 12 thousand rupees. It has cost a total of 30 to 35 thousand rupees per bigha. However, he has planted melons in 5 bighas of land as a companion crop of garlic. With favorable weather, it is possible to earn Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 per bigha excluding production cost.
Sukumar Sarkar, a farmer from Patpara village in the same area, said that he has planted garlic on 8 bighas (lease) this year. Due to the increase in the cost of plowing, the cost per bigha this year has been 6 to 7 thousand more than last year. Not getting enough money, he planted garlic with interest of lakhs of rupees from the association (NGO). If he does not get favorable weather or if he does not get a fair price for the crop, he will have to sit on the road to pay interest on the debt.
Several people, including Nazmul Hossain and Jalal Uddin, garlic growers of Chalanbil, said that they have been planting garlic in Chalanbil area for the last 22 years, but this year they are planting garlic on loan. If they do not get a fair price for the crop, they will have to sit on the road.
Deputy Director, Department of Agricultural Extension, Natore, said, Compared to last year, less garlic is being cultivated in Chalanbil this year than the target. Moreover, the largest garlic cultivation in Bangladesh is in Gurudaspur of Chalanbil, Baraigram, Tarash, Chatmohar and some parts of Singra Beel. Necessary agricultural advice and fertilizers are being distributed among the farmers.