Farmers in Koyra upazila of Khulna have been successful in sunflower cultivation on saline soils which used to lie unused after the cultivation of Aman paddy.
The farmers of the upazila had, in fact, started farming sunflower on the saline soils experimentally and they were now expecting good profit from it.
Talking to UNB, some famers said the lands used to lie fallow after the Aman paddy harvesting and they started cultivating sunflower on those in collaboration with the Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) and the yield looks to be very good.
During a recent visit to sunflower fields at Chandipur village and Koyra-2 village under Amadi union in the upazila, the UNB correspondent found one hectare of land covered with yellow sunflower that has brought luck for farmers.
The department has been successful in cultivating sunflower experimentally on saline fallow lands.
"I’ve grown sunflowers on 15 bighas of land," said Subhas Mandal, a local farmer.
As the saline lands used to lie unused after Aman, ARI advised farmers to cultivate sunflower on that. They provided farmers with fertilizers, seeds and pesticides to bring the lands under cultivation.
ARI scientific assistant Zahid Hasan said salinity-tolerant sunflower was cultivated on one hectare of saline land at Koira's Chandipur and Koira-2 villages. “I visited the land regularly and gave the farmers necessary suggestions,” he said.
Earlier, sunflower was cultivated on experimental basis at Uttar Bedkashi Union and Koira-3 village in the upazila, Zahid said.
Salinity-tolerant sunflower was cultivated at the villages under the supervision of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), Khulna.
BARI chief scientific officer Dr Md Harunur Rashid said sunflower is a salt tolerant crop. In the south region of the country, vast tracts of land remain fallow after harvesting Aman paddy. “It’s difficult to grow any other crop easily as there’s salt in the soil and water but sunflower can be cultivated with two irrigations,” he added.
In Bangladesh, sunflower cultivation as a crop goes back to 1975. It is currently cultivated — though in a limited way -- in Patuakhali, Rajshahi, Jashore, Kushtia, Natore, Pabna, Dinajpur, Gazipur and Tangail. Its seeds contain 40-45 percent linoleic acid. Since its oil does not contain harmful erucic acid, it is beneficial to heart patients.