Farmers in Gazipur are dealing with an acute shortage of goat vaccines after supplies from the district livestock office have run out, leading to a great anxiety among the farming community here that their farms could be destroyed in the absence of timely vaccination.
District livestock officials said they have taken necessary measures to collect the requisite goat vaccines from the capital, which would be delivered within this week in line with the needs of the district.
According to information of the district livestock office, there are about 3,000 goats in 25 farms across different upazilas of the district.
Besides, many families are rearing 233,229 goats at home. Goats need to be vaccinated once a year ahead of the breeding season to remain healthy. Farmers vaccinate their goats from the livestock office at Tk 50 per goat.
The livestock office has distributed 53,000 goat vaccinations among the farmers this year but the vaccine against Peste des petits ruminants (PPR), a highly contagious viral disease affecting sheep and goat, ran out two weeks ago.
PPR, also known as sheep and goat plague, is a viral disease of goats and sheep characterised by fever, sores in the mouth, diarrhoea, and pneumonia. The PPR virus does not infect humans.
Talking to UNB, Atiqur Rahman, manager of Plus-Minus Agro Limited, said, “We've brought 30 new goats in January. We went to the district livestock office for vaccination but it wasn’t possible to vaccinate due to acute shortage. So, we're worried.”
District Livestock officer Dipak Ranjan Roy said they have sent a team to Dhaka to bring the necessary goat vaccinations. After receiving the consignment, it will be possible to vaccinate from Monday next, he added.
Preparations for holding the annual Amar Ekushey book fair, the largest and most popular book fair in the country, on the Bangla Academy premises and the adjacent areas are going on in full swing.
This year, the fair is being arranged covering larger areas, aiming to accommodate more publishing houses and booklovers.
The fair is set to begin on February 2 instead of February 1 due to elections to two Dhaka city corporations.
The month-long book fair is arranged every year in February commemorating the sacrifices of eight people who laid down their lives on February 21, 1952 for establishing Bangla as the mother tongue.
Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Jabbar and a few other brave sons of the soil were killed in police firings on the day when students came out in a procession from Dhaka University campus defying section 144 to press home their demand for the recognition of Bangla as a state language of the then Pakistan.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the event on the first day of the fair on the premises of Bangla Academy. The Bangla Academy Literature Award will also be distributed at the opening ceremony.
Visiting the fair venues, the UNB correspondent found workers busy preparing and designing their stalls on the Bangla Academy premises and in the extended part of the fair at Suhrawardy Udyan.
The correspondent found that the publishing companies who got allotment have already started setting up stalls.
Workers were found busy in installation of pavilions and stalls to complete those within the deadline set on January 30 noon.
Besides, the printing presses in the capital’s Bangla Bazar and Paltan areas are now abuzz with the last moment tasks of printing and binding new books.
Visitors at a stall of Amar Ekushey Book Fair. File Photo: UNB
Bangla Academy director and member secretary of the fair organising committee Jalal Ahmed told UNB that they are well-prepared to hold the fair smoothly.
"We’ve completed our all the formalities of the fair successfully. We’ve allotted the stalls earlier which will help the publishers install their stalls properly. The number of units has been increased while the fairground expanded," he said.
Jalal said the fair will be dedicated to Father of Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibir Rahman while his life and works will be showcased in the fair in different ways marking his birth centenary.
He also said a total of 830 units have been allocated to 550 publishers on January 13.
This year, the land earmarked for the fair has been expanded to 850,000 square feet which is 300,000 square feet more than the previous year, he added.
The fair venue was first extended to Suhrawardy Udyan in 2013 to accommodate more participants.
He also added that 34 pavilions have been allotted to publishing houses, including the Bangla Academy. The total number of the pavilions was 24 last year.
Two honorary guests - Indian poet Shankha Ghosh and Egyptian writer and poet Mohsin Al Arishiare expected to grace the opening ceremony.
Writers and publishers are also busy promoting their books on the social media ahead of the grand fair.
Publishers expressed their satisfaction to reporters as the academy allotted stalls for them on January 13, much earlier than the previous year.
Director General of Bangla Academy Habibullah Siraji told UNB that Bangla Academy is ready to present a beautiful event of fair for a month.
He also said the Academy has set the theme of the fair as ‘Birth Centenary of Bangabandhu.’
The fair began informally in 1972 on Bangla Academy premises but the academy officially took the responsibility in 1978 to organise the book fair every year.
It was then named as ‘Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela’ and a guideline was laid out in this regard in 1984.
The fair will remain open from 3pm to 8:30pm on weekdays, from 11am to 8:30pm on weekends, and from 8am to 9pm on February 21 -- International Mother Language Day, according to the organisers.
A high production cost and low prices of the products have led to a decline in boro cultivation in Faridpur over the years as frustrated farmers go for cash crops.
Data from the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) show that the target of boro cultivation in 2010-11 was 39,417 hectres, which has come down to 24,00 hectres in 2019-20.
Farmers told UNB that they did not get fair prices for the crops in the last season. Producing a maund (37.32 kgs) of paddy cost Tk 800 but they fetched about Tk 600.
Hafizur Rahman, a farmer of C&D ghat area in Sadar upazila, said he cultivated paddy in six bighas last year at a cost of Tk 14,000. “I earned only Tk 10,000 from the production. So, I’ve decided to plant onion, pulse and wheat this year,” he said.
Several farmers of Ambikapur village pointed out that paddy cultivation is dependent on irrigation and hence its cost is always high.
Anwar Hossain, a paddy seller of Boalmari, said farmers are being deprived of fair prices through rice import. “Besides, the government procures rice from millers but not directly from farmers. If this continues, farmers will not cultivate boro in future,” he said.
But Kartik Chandra Chakraborty, deputy director of DAE, offered a different version.
“DAE is encouraging farmers to diversify their products and that’s why they are cultivating alternative crops,” he said. “There won’t be any shortage of rice even after the decline in production.”
Bangladesh produced 20.4 million tonnes of boro rice in 2018-19 against a target of 19.6 million tonnes, according to DAE.
In 2017-18, the boro output was 19.7 million tonnes against the target of 19 million tonnes.
According to available data, boro yield was 18.4 million tonnes in the 2016-17 fiscal year while it was 19 million tonnes in 2015-16 and 18.3 million tonnes in 2009-10.
Having failed to manage a job after after his graduation, Liakat Ali tried his luck in flower business and it blossomed.
Ali took up commercial flower cultivation at the end of 2018 with a rock-solid determination. Now he does not look back.
People involved with flower production say they are looking forward to buoyant sales in February when people celebrate the International Mother Language Day and Valentine’s Day.
Liakat started farming Transvaal daisy flower on 52 decimals of land with the help of his brother at Khusirbazar of Aliabad union in Sadar Upazila. Last year, he brought 124 decimals under flower cultivation.
He is also cultivating Chrysanthemum and Gypsy and preparing the field for roses.
The success of the law graduate inspired many previously unemployed youths to take up commercial flower farming.
Liakat said his initial investment was Tk 25 lakh and earned more than a million as profit in the last one and half years.
Wholesale buyers from Faridpur and adjacent areas and also from Dhaka and Chattogram collect flowers from his farm, Liakat said.
“I decided to start flower farming when I was desperately looking for jobs,” he said. “I collected 7,000 saplings of Transvaal daisy flower plants from Jashore and India. Now I have grown more than 9,000 Transvaal daisy flower.”
Abu Sayed Mandal, another flower farmer from the area, said the prices of the flowers and plants were satisfactory."We’re passing busy time ahead of February,” he added.
The flower fields are not only generating employment and helping people overcome financial hardships but also turning heads and attracting visitors from far and wide.
Rezaul Karim, one of the visitors, said many people like him visit the gardens in the afternoon to enjoy nature’s pleasure. Some buy flowers for various occasions.
Kartik Chandra Chakraborty, Deputy Director of Faridpur Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), said currently flowers are cultivated commercially at many places in the district with their help.
“We're supporting farmers who are maintaining regular communication with us,” he said. “If needed, we’ll arrange trainings for the farmers.”
Farmers in char areas of Laxmipur district are expecting to have a bountiful production of winter vegetables of over 10,000 mts worth Tk 30 crore this season.
They said the vegetable yield will exceed their expectation this year due to favourable weather condition and less pest attacks which will help them recoup their last year’s losses.
Visiting Charramani Mohon, Bhobaniganj, Piarapur, Tumchar, Miarberi and Maju Chowdhurirhat areas of Sadar upazila, the UNB correspondent found vast tracts of land full of eggplant, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, snake gourd, bean, radish and different vegetables.
Besides local varieties, farmers have produced various hybrid varieties of vegetables in char areas of the district.
Abul Khair, a farmer of Piarapur area, said growers in the area are showing more interest in vegetable production as it proved to be more profitable than other crops.
Kishore Kumar Majumder, additional deputy director, Laxmipur Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), said vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, carrot, snake gourd, bean, radish, eggplant and other vegetables have been produced well in the district thanks to the fair weather.
Required advice from DAE officials helped the farmers get the good yield, he said.
The vegetables produced in char areas of the district are expected to help the farmers earn Tk 30 crore this season, said Majumder adding that vegetables are being sent to Dhaka, Chattogram and other parts of the country after meeting the local demand.
Over 10 mts of vegetables have been produced on each hectare of land in the district while vegetables are being sold at Tk 30 to Tk 40 per kg on average, he added.
Farmers cultivated vegetables on over 500 hectares land in the district and each hectare would bring Tk 4 lakh, he added.
Local farmers said last year they counted losses but this year has opened up a way to recover the losses as vegetable output looks to be very good this time.