Many of the farmers have already become self-reliant economically applying modern and systematic cultivation methods on their barren char lands
Chilli cultivation has changed the fortune of farmers in Gaibandha for the better in seven of the district's upazilas in recent years.
According to sources, the farmers of the upazilas used to cultivate chilli like any other vegetables and crops earlier. But they could not profit in the past due to lack of marketing facilities.
Modern cultivation methods, distribution of high quality seeds to farmers, availability of fertilizers, need based training and ensuring irrigation facilities led to a boost in chilli production recently in the char areas.
Many of the farmers have already become self-reliant economically applying modern and systematic cultivation methods on their barren char lands.
As per recent statistics of the district's Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) office, the target for cultivating chilli was set across 12,112 bigha of land, but the target was exceeded to 12,787 bigha.
DAE sources also said November 15-December 15 is the ideal time for cultivating the vegetable, which could be harvested in 60 days.
Each bigha of chilli cultivation costs farmers Tl15,000-17,000, with a yield of 60-65 maunds per bigha.
Per maund of chilli is sold for Tk950-1,000, farmers said.
Field level sub assistant agriculture officials of the DAE and development workers of some voluntary organizations supported the char dwellers with agri inputs, seed, fertilizers and the latest technologies to help boost production of chilli on the sandy land.
They are also assisting the growers in creating a direct linkage with the chilli traders so that the cultivators can sell their dried product at fair prices, said Khazanur Rahman, agriculture officer at Saadullahpur upazila.
Chilli traders from Dhaka, Rangpur, Naogaon, Sirajganj, and Joypurhat are coming to haat and bazaars here and purchasing the chillies. They are selling the dried chillies to different companies like Pran, ACI and Square, he added.
Golap Hossain, a chili farmer of Khatiamari char under Fazlupur union of Fulchhari upazila, said he cultivated chilli on six bighas of land this year and earned Tk20,000 so far.
"Till now I have spent Tk15,000 on maintenance and other expenses per bigha, but I expect to earn at least Tk1.2 lakh more from my chilli cultivation," he added.
Deputy Director of DAE Masudur Rahman said all the local varieties of chillies are planted in the district.
"The quality and flavors of this chili are very high, and also unmatched in taste. There is no foul odor emitted from the chillies in Gaibandha. Our office is also motivating many farmers in the district to take up chilli farming," he added.