Sunflowers grown in temperate countries contributes are a major source of edible oil which is much healthier than palm or soybean oil for not having cholesterol
Even since the commercial cultivation of sunflower took off in Manikganj and Kurigram, it has enabled local farmers to reel in more profit than any other crops previously cultivated there.
Sunflowers grown in temperate countries contributes are a major source of edible oil which is much healthier than palm or soybean oil for not having cholesterol.
The Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) is planning to cultivate sunflowers on a large-scale as per the government's target to increase cultivation of oil crops to cope with the potential edible oil shortage in the country.
The prospect of lucrative sunflower farming in Manikganj has convinced local farmers in Harirampur upazila to start its cultivation experimentally.
Now, at least 10 farmers in the upazila are going ahead with sunflower farming on their 10 bigha of land.
The local DAE office distributed sunflower seeds of Pacific Hysun-33 variety and fertilizers to these ten farmers.
Abdus Salam, a farmer of the sunflower project, said: "Fertilizers, irrigation and pesticide will cost around Tk6,000 to Tk7,000, and we should be able to make a profit of Tk25,000 to Tk30,000. We can make harvest by three to three and a half months."
The stem of the flower could be used or sold as fuel for additional profit. "There is no extra hassle for cultivation of the flowers; only irrigating the plants a couple of times and looking after them is enough," adds Salam.
Nurul Islam, another farmer of the same village, says: "Paddy and jute cultivation require a lot of hard work and cost us more than the sunflower. Eventually more farmers will move toward the crop."
Md Zahirul Haque, an agriculture officer at Harirampur upazila, said: "Companies will buy the sunflower seeds directly from the farmers. It won't be inconvenient for them to sell their produce as we have arranged the communication procedure between the both parties. We hope that sunflowers will be cultivated on a thousand bighas of land from next year."
Meanwhile, Abu Bakr Siddique, a farmer from Kurigram Sadar upazila, said he had previously cultivated banana, cauliflower, and cabbage. “It was very difficult to earn profit because of the high production cost.”
Abu Bakr’s sunflower seedlings started blooming within three months after being planted and taken care of with guidelines and fertilizers provided from the DAE since November 20. He hoped that the flowers could be harvested within four months, reported UNB.
Farmers Omar Faruk, Abed Ali and Jamal said they visited the sunflower field and were inspired to follow suit thanks to the prospect of bumper production and high profit.
Dr Mustafizur Rahman, deputy director of Kurigram DAE, said there are over 500 chars and islands in the district and some weather-tolerant crops were cultivated on an experimental basis this year.
“Farmers cultivated sunflowers on 55 acres (165 bigha) in the district this year. The vegetable oil can be used as an alternative to soybean oil. Besides, bird’s food can also be produced from sunflowers,” the official added.