Farmers in Thakurgaon have been losing interest in wheat cultivation for the last four years, whereas even 5-6 years ago wheat was cultivated prominently in the district
The northernmost district of Thakurgaon was once prominently known for its wheat production. But in recent years wheat farmers have not been achieving production targets amid a gradual decline in the cultivation of the cereal in the district.
According to the district Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), farmers have consistently failed to achieve the production target for the last 20-21 seasons.
However, sources at the DAE said that efforts were underway to revitalize this particular cereal cultivation in the region to restore its former reputation in wheat cultivation.
Farmers of Thakurgaon have been losing interest in wheat cultivation for the last four years, whereas even 5-6 years ago wheat was cultivated prominently in the district.
One-fifth of the country's wheat production was once produced in this district. But consistently low profits have driven a lot of farmers away from wheat cultivation.
During a field visit, this correspondent found that on land where farmers would once cultivate wheat, profitable crops such as maize, chilli and potatoes are being cultivated.
Speaking about their predicament in cultivating wheat, Gani Miya, a farmer from Baliadangi upazila, said that farmers could not supply wheat to government godowns during the wheat collection.
“Although the government ensured a fair price for wheat, the farmers were deprived of it by a class of trade syndicates,” he added.
Meanwhile, Nur Islam, another farmer from Gangar area, said: “It is very difficult to find labourers to harvest wheat and good seeds are not available in the market.”
Abu Hossain, deputy director, Thakurgaon Department of Agricultural Extension, said: "It is only natural that farmers will be inclined to cultivating more lucrative crops. However, farmers can be encouraged to cultivate wheat more by providing quality short duration seeds.”
According to the district DAE office, this year the target was to cultivate wheat on 50,650 hectares in the district. But local farmers fell short of meeting the target and the crop was planted on 47,000 hectares.
Meanwhile, the target for wheat production was set at 189,931 tons. And so far farmers have produced 5,985 tons of wheat (in 3% of the land).
At this rate, the farmers will meet the production target, say DAE officials.
Local farmers say wheat crops were relatively safer from crop diseases compared to other years. As a result, production has been good this year.
The government now has to ensure the supply of quality wheat seeds and the purchase of the crop at fair prices from farmers directly by thwarting the middlemen syndicates, they added.