A banana market. PHOTO: Dhaka Tribune

SOURCE: Dhaka Tribune

Braving the Covid-19 pandemic, farmers are eying a bumper production of banana this year in Rangpur agriculture region where cultivation of the crop is continuously increasing.

Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) officials said farmers have cultivated bananas on 4,209 hectares of land, including on 2,559 hectares during the last Rabi season and 1,650 hectares during the current Kharif-1 season.

Harvesting of bananas during the last Rabi season continues in full swing and farmers are happy getting an excellent output with better prices amid abundant supply of the nutritious fruit in the local markets across the region.

Meanwhile, tender banana plants, cultivated during the current Kharif-1 season, are growing superbly amid excellent climate conditions as its harvesting will begin later this year in the region.

“Farmers are showing keen interest now in farming bananas to meet their own nutrition, public nourishment and enhance immunity against the Covid-19 virus,” said Agriculturist Bidhu Bhusan Ray, additional director of the DAE, Rangpur region.

After being inspired by the DAE and other agriculture related organisations, farmers are expanding cultivation of bananas as a cash crop round the year both in the mainland and riverine char areas to reap more profits than many other crops.

The field level DAE officials are assisting farmers, riverside and char people to expand cultivation of ‘Meher Sagar’, ‘Sobri’ and other varieties of banana on more lands both in mainland and char areas round the year.

With the DAE assistance, small and marginal farmers and landless char and riverside people have cultivated bananas in all 58 upazilas of Rangpur, Gaibandha, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat and Nilphamari districts in the region this year.

In Nageshwari upazila of Kurigram, char and riverside people have cultivated bananas on around 200 acres of riverine char lands in Bamondanga, Berubari, Raiganj, Kochakata, Bolloverkhas, Kaliganj and Bhitorband unions this year.

Talking to BSS, farmer Rafikul Islam of Bamondanga union in the upazila said a group of char people led by him started cultivating banana on 10 acres of char lands five years back.

Farmer Lokman Hossain of the area said char people are selling bananas on one side of char lands and cultivating bananas afresh on the other side on vacant lands round the year.

“The process of cultivation, formation of bananas and growth of new banana bunches continues all the time giving the gardens fresh looks,” Hossain added.

Talking to BSS, Senior Coordinator (Agriculture and Environment) of RDRS Bangladesh Agriculturist Mamunur Rashid said cultivation of bananas along with vegetables in relay methods has become popular to change the fortune of many people in the region.

Many people have started farming bananas with vegetables and other crops adopting intercropping and relay methods both on the mainland and char areas on a commercial basis also contributing to their economic development.

“The DAE and some NGOs are assisting farmers and providing latest technologies for expanded cultivation of bananas as a cash crop to improve their livelihoods as well as living standard in the region,” Rashid added.

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