Farmers in Barishal are passing days in despair as they fear that this season’s Aman yield will be poor because the prices of saplings have soared in the district’s prominent paddy sapling market.
About 20,000 farmers of five upazilas -- Gouranadi, Ujirpur, Agailjhara and Banaripara upazilas in Barishal and adjacent Madaripur Sadar upazila -- are facing the setback as the prices various verities of Aman saplings have turned almost double than last year.
Among local varieties, Dudhmona, Boshiara, Kauathuti, Kalijira and Mota and high-yielding varieties like BR-11 and IRRI 52, 76 and 77 are on sale at Mahilara market, the largest paddy sapling market of the southern region.
On August 17, this correspondent visited Mahilara market and spoke to farmers who were not being able to buy saplings according to their needs.
About 500 traders had put saplings on sale there.
Abdul Malak Akon, a farmer Mahilara area in the upazila, said, “Last year, per pon (one pon equals to 80 bundles) was sold for Tk 200 but this year it is Tk 400 to 500. The high-yielding ones are on sale at Tk 600.”
According to traders, the prices shot up as saplings could not grow in plenty due to drought that hit in the Bangla month of Chaitra. Agriculture officers of different upazilas of the district echoed them.
Gouranadi Upazila Agriculture Officer Mohammad Mamunur Rahman said, “Farmers are losing interest to grow Aman due to high prices of saplings. The sapling production had thinned due to adverse weather.”
“The cultivation season is almost over. It ends in the middle of Bangla month of Bhadra and we are not being able to buy saplings. So the production might be very low this year,” said Biswajit Baroi, a farmer of Batajore village in the.
“I prepared 60 decimals of land to cultivate Aman this year. For that I need 500 bundles of saplings but I could buy only 280 bundles; that too at a very high price,” said the 60-year-old farmer.
Arab Ali Mia, a seller at the market, said, “I came with 200 bundles of Aman saplings and sold each pon at over Tk 500. The price is high this year due to low production of saplings.”
“About 20 days ago, the prices of local variety saplings were below Tk 300 per pon but today it is Tk 400 to Tk 500 per pon,” said Aynal Sardar, another seller.
Nazrul Haque Nilu, president of Jatiya Krishak Samity, Barishal unit, said, “The high price of saplings will increase the overall production cost and farmers might not be able to recoup their production cost let alone profit.”
“For the last 10 years, I have been buying and selling Aman saplings at different markets in Barishal but never saw such high rates,” said Jagannath Baroi, a farmer of Batajore village of Gouranadi.
“Now we are selling each maund of paddy at Tk 400 to Tk 450, whereas the production cost is Tk 600 to Tk 650, farmer Rahim Sheikh of Mahilara area said.
“Why should we go for cultivation if the sapling prices are high too?” he asked.
The Department of Agricultural Extension had a target to cultivate Aman paddy on 7,100 hectors and saplings on 630 hectors of land in Gouranadi upazila this year.