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Bangladesh: Turmeric cultivation thrives in CHT

Indigenous Jhum farmers in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) have become more interested in turmeric cultivation as it is more profitable than other crops. Easy method of cultivation, less monetary involvement and less risk of animal or pesticide attack are also the reasons for turmeric cultivation. The farmers last year produced around 34,400 metric tons of turmeric worth about Tk 7 crore in Rangamati, sources at the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) said.

Currently, almost all the indigenous farmers cultivate turmeric as it is more profitable than any other crops such as paddy and banana. The farmers said they prefer cultivation of turmeric because pests do not attack their turmeric fields. On other hand, wild animals often invaded and destroyed paddy, banana, maize, ginger, papaya and other crops in the jhum farms whereas the animals usually spare turmeric fields. The recent rat invasion in the paddy fields, which attributed to a severe food crisis in the CHT, has also prompted the jhum farmers to change their mindset to shift from their traditional crop cultivation to turmeric, they said.

Jhum had been the main source of livelihood for the farmers in the past. They gradually have lost their interest in jhum cultivation and many of them in the district have become solvent by cultivating turmeric. Initially, they took turmeric cultivation as a means of additional earning. Now most of them consider it as the main source of income, farmers told The Daily Star correspondent during a visit to their fields at some upazilas of the district.

“I earned Tk 40,000 selling 18 mounds dried and six mounds of raw turmeric last year,” said Sadhana Debi Tangchangya, a farmer at Wagga in Kaptai upazila.
Sadhana said she sowed four maunds of seeds in the current season and three maunds last year. Deba Kumar Chakma, another farmer at Bogachhari village in Bhusionchhara under Barkal upazila, said he earned Tk 50,000 last year and hopes to earn double this year.

Deba said he has sowed seven mounds this season while it was five mounds last year. “I brought 16 mounds of turmeric and got Tk 34,000 by selling this. I have more 20 mounds of dried turmeric. I will sell it when the price would go up,” said Fuzukya Chakma at Suvalong Bazar.

DAE sources said 2633 hectares of land have been brought under turmeric cultivation this year in Rangamati whereas it was 2150 in the previous year. Total yield of turmeric was 34,400 matric tones last year and it would be higher this year. Hectare-wise production of turmeric was 16 matric tones last year and it would increase this year, they said.

All ten upazilas in Rangamati and most upazilas of Bandarban and Khagrachhari are also cultivating turmeric in small and large scale, DAE sources said. They said various types of turmeric including Sinduri, Dimla and Pabna are being cultivated. Of these, Sinduri is of the best quality. Farmers said a maund of dried turmeric is being sold at Tk 1500 to Tk 1800 while it was Tk 1200 to Tk 1500 last year. Per maund of raw turmeric is being sold at Tk 300 to Tk 400.

Chairman of Rangamati Hill District Council Jagat Jyoti Chakma told The Daily Star that they would provide turmeric and ginger seeds to the hilly farmers. Ramoni Kanti Chakma, DAE horticulturist, said the farmers can grow more crops if they get proper technical support. Ramoni said they cannot do this due to inaccessibility and farmers seldom come to their office for necessary suggestions.


Source: thedailystar.net

Publication date: 10/30/2008


 


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