Farmers have already exceeded the fixed farming target of sweet potato by 9.14 per cent and are expecting its super bumper output in Rangpur agriculture region during the current Rabi season.
Officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) said sowing of sweet potato seeds still continues and its tender plants are growing superbly now amid favourable climatic conditions in all five districts of the region.
The DAE had fixed a target of producing 34,670 tonnes of sweet potato from 1,685 hectares of land for Rangpur, Gaibandha, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat and Nilphamari districts in the region this season.
However, farmers have cultivated the crop on 1,780 hectares of land exceeding the fixed farming target by 1,869 hectares of land or 9.14 per cent this time with government assistance to recoup the huge crop losses they incurred during recent floods.
Deputy Director of the DAE at its regional office Agriculturist Md Moniruzzaman said that hundreds of flood-affected char and riverside people are farming sweet potato on sandy-barren and char lands side by side with many farmers in the mainland.
As the sandy-loamy and sandy lands are suitable for sweet potato farming, there is a brighter prospect of enhancing cultivation of the low-cost crop without using fertiliser and irrigation water on char lands.
Cultivation of sweet potato is highly profitable and its cultivation is increasing every year increasing production in recent times in all five districts of the region.
“Farmers produced 39,884 tonnes of the crop from 1,780 hectares of land during the last 2019-2020 Rabi season and 34,670 tonnes from 1,685 hectares of land during the previous 2018-2019 Rabi season in the region,” Moniruzzaman said.
Senior Coordinator (Agriculture and Environment) of RDRS Bangladesh Agriculturist Mamunur Rashid said production of sweet potato could be increased further by imparting training and providing latest technologies and easy-term agri-loans to char people.
“Sweet potato contains vitamin A and C and mineral elements, which are absent in rice. It is enriched with protein, carbohydrate, calcium, iron, carotene and vitamin B1 and B2, which are essential for the human body,” Rashid added.
An adult person can meet daily demand of 13 gram vitamin-A by consuming a single sweet potato.
“People of the Philippines and Papua New Guinea, some African and Latin American countries consume sweet potato as an alternative to rice while in the USA and Japan it is widely used as food,” Rashid added.
Agriculturist Dr MA Mazid, who got Independence Award-2018 in food security category, said people living in char areas of Rangpur agriculture region are farming sweet potato along with widely consuming it as an alternative foodstuff to rice.
He said many tasty foods like ‘halua’, ‘payesh’, bread, ‘pauruti’, biscuit, pastry and cake could be produced through processing sweet potato with other ingredients for its devitrified consumption.
“If common people become habituated to sweet potato consumption, we can reduce pressure on rice,” Dr Mazid said, adding that sweet potato has the same carbohydrate, more nutrient and vitamin than rice He called for changing food habits to reduce pressure on rice as sweet potato has the same carbohydrate, more nutrient and vitamin than many other major foods like rice, reports BSS.