The farmers of Thakurgaon district are happy as the winter-season bitter-gourd has grown abundantly this year due to favourable climate conditions as well as timely supply of agri-imputes.
A source of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) said this year bitter gourd was cultivated on 100 hectares of land this season.
In this purpose, around 500 agriculture labourers are working in bitter gourd fields every day.
Now, different varieties of bitter gourd including Bhat Karola, hybrid and local varieties, are cultivated here.
The farmers are getting about 10,000 to 12,000 maunds of bitter gourd per bigha of land and sending the produce to different parts of the country. Thus, they are earning net profit of Tk1.5 to 2 lakh per bigha.
Bitter gourd is cultivated in between rainy and winter seasons. In the past, vast tracts of land here remained fallow since nobody cultivated it or any other vegetable. But the situation has changed as more and more farmers are now cultivating different kinds of vegetables including the bitter gourd.
Farmer Jabbar Hossain of Nargun village under Sadar upazila said: “The agriculture departments and NGOs have provided quality seeds, necessary inputs and trainings on the latest technologies to make the programme successful.”
“The landless and marginal farmers have also brought vast tracts of land under the vegetable cultivation in this current season to earn extra money from the cropland costing small money.” he added.
Rahmat Hossain of Kaharpara village said: “I have brought 0.50 acres of land under bitter-gourd cultivation this season costing Tk23,000 and I expect Tk65,000 as profit if the weather condition remains favourable.
“I don’t use pesticides rather I use perching method when the pests attack the crop,” he added.
Farmers of the district usually produce huge surplus quantities of rice, potato, maize, vegetables. Per KG of bitter-gourd is now being sold between Tk50 and 60 in the kitchen market.
An unemployed youth Mehedi Ahsan of Chameshwari village under Sadar upazila became self-reliant by cultivating bitter gourd. The vegetable has great demand in the country as well as in foreign countries.
Mehedi Ahsan, after completing his studies, tried several times to manage a job, but failed.
At first he cultivated the vegetable on one acre of land, and after getting success he cultivated bitter gourd on five acres of land. This time he got a grand success.
Now his bitter gourd is being exported to different countries of the world including Dubai, Katar, Bahrain, Australia, Hong Kong and Maldives.
Vegetable traders Azizul Islam and Hasan Ali said the bitter gourds of Mehedi Ahsan have great demand in different parts of the country and even in the foreign countries.
Mehedi Ahsan said he cultivated bitter gourd on five acres of land at a cost of Tk1 lakh and earned about Tk10 lakh.
Deputy Director of DAE Arshed Ali said:”For less investment and more profit, bitter gourd cultivation is gaining popularity in the district. But to preserve vegetables there is no cold storage here.”
“After meeting up local and national demands, huge quantity of different kinds of vegetables and fruits remain excess which ultimately get damaged. If government and non-government organisations come forward to save the local products, a huge amount of money would be saved,” he also said.
He also underscored the need for using the latest agro-technologies and disseminating proper knowledge to the farmers for increasing bitter-gourd to achieve self- reliance.