Oilseed production has witnessed a drop this season due to a prolonged cold wave, coupled with heavy fog, creating huge losses to farmers.
Agriculturists say oilseed production area has increased, but odd climatic conditions have been causing low pollination amid lesser presence of bees, thus hampering production.
According to officials, the target of 1.45 million tonnes of oilseed production is unlikely to achieve this year due to such unfavourable weather.
Bangladesh produces oil seeds, including mustard, soya bean, sesame (teel) and groundnut. Of the seeds, mustard comprises 0.85 million tonnes.
Jamalpur, Tangail, Faridpur, Rajbari, Manikganj, Sirajganj, Pabna, Natore and Noakhali framers said fruiting rates fell by 20-25 per cent for early varieties and 40-45 per cent for seasonal types.
Seasonal varieties will be harvested during the February-March period.
The country witnessed light to heavy rain from November to December. Even cold wave with heavy fog has also been sweeping all over for the last 45 days.
Ajmiri Alam Polash, a farmer at Ghior, Manikganj, said he sowed seeds in the last week of October and the plants' condition was good until the flowering stage in the first week of December.
"But rate of fruiting is very low now", he told the FE.
"I thought it was for low-quality seeds, but the same thing is happening in nearby villages and unions."
Mr Polash is expecting a drop in production by 25-30 per cent for his early variety of mustard.
Delowar Jahan, a farmer and also director of save food initiative Prakritik Krishi, has cultivated seasonal mustard oilseed on 3.0 bighas of land in Manikganj Sadar.
"The fruiting rate is very low this year though condition of flowers was very good," he told the FE.
"We've discussed it with the agronomists and pollination experts on the matter," he cited.
"We found that bees are not going out amid rainy and foggy weather which is causing low pollination as they are the key pollinators of oil and spice seeds."
Mr Jahan said seasonal oil seed growers, who got their plant in its flowering stage in January, might witness 40-45 per cent low crops.
The farmer said his organisation along with most of bee keepers, are also going to incur losses amid such odd weather condition.
"Even our pet honeybees are not going out of their boxes to collect nectar," he said.
Department of Agriculture Extension deputy director (monitoring unit) Mizanur Rahman said they have set a target to produce 1.45 million tonnes of oilseeds on 0.72 million hectares of land.
The target for mustard oil is 0.85 million tonnes on 0.422 million hectares this year.
The area increased to 0.44 million hectares from last year's 0.39 million, Mr Rahman disclosed.
Asked, he said they were also getting field reports saying a low rate of pollination.
However, apart from the oil seed producers, the bee collectors (apiarists) are also going to incur losses this year.
Beekeepers' Foundation president Md Ebadullah Afzal said bees from oilseed fields and spice crops like black cumin and coriander provide 60-70 per cent of the total 14,000 tonnes of honey.
Medium-scale apiarists, who invested Tk 0.5-0.6 million with their 40-50 hives, might incur 25-30 per cent of losses amid low honey collection, he said.
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