Farmers engaged in vegetable farming — on floating beds made of hyacinth and bamboo — in Nazirpur and Nesarabad upazilas of Pirojpur district are devastated by low prices of their produce.
Though the farmers keep themselves engaged in cultivating vegetables, taking advantage of the availability of hyacinth in the region, anxiety over low prices has gripped them.
According to the district’s Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), farmers in the region have been farming vegetables, using the floating method, for over a century.
Some 3,200 farmers of the upazilas cultivate several varieties of vegetables including papaya, gourd, pumpkin, beans, okra, tomato, eggplant and cabbage.
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The vegetable seedlings produced on the beds are usually sold at upazilas of the district and other parts of the country but this year the sales are not seeing a momentum due to poor response from buyers.
Though it was targeted to produce 86,50,000 saplings on 175 hectares of land, it exceeded the target due to favourable weather.
Earlier, a bunch of 100 saplings was sold at Tk 250 to 300 but the price is now Tk 150 to 200. The sale of saplings goes on from June to November every year.
Some areas including Deulbari-Dobra, Kalardoyania and Malikhai under Nazirpur upazila and most parts of Baldiya union under Nesarabad upazila remain under 5 to 8 feet water round the year, causing no production of any crop.
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The farmers said they usually take loans from local money lenders for usury and lands as sublease for cultivating vegetables and producing saplings.
The farmers are bound to take loans from the lenders with a high usury because of failure to manage loans from the banks during the Robi, Kharif-1 and 2 seasons.
They are deprived of bagging a good profit due to the high interest on the loans, they said.
Hoping assistance from the government, the farmers said they don’t get the desired prices by selling produce due to natural disasters, damages of crops, low price, disadvantages in marketing and lack of preservation.
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Local farmer Jamal Hossain said he is used to cultivating vegetables on the floating beds made of hyacinth and bamboo in the water bodies taken on sublease.
“I have 15 to 16 beds where I cultivate several types of vegetables including beans, papaya, tomato, chili and gourd,” he said.
“We have not been getting a reasonable price due to lack of dealers caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he claimed, adding that an amount of Tk 7,000 to 10,000 is needed to cultivate vegetables and produce saplings on a 60-hand long bed.
Dr Md Nazrul Islam Sikdar, deputy director of the district’s DAE, told UNB that some 60 to 70 percent farmers of Gaokhali, Monohorpur, Delbari and Malikhali areas under Nazipur upazila have been involved with vegetable farming on floating beds.
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“We inform the farmers on maintaining quality and visit their croplands to give training,” he said.
Urging high officials of the agricultural ministry to take measures to offer loans on easy conditions, the farmers said that it will be difficult to keep vegetable cultivation on floating beds going unless loans from banks are made easy.