Cultivation of water chestnut (paniphal in Bangla) has increased greatly in two northern districts of the country in the last couple of years.
Around 20 years ago, the fallow wetlands in Natore and Naogaon usually remained waterlogged and unused between July and November every year.
Farmers in the two districts have now made those wetlands useful by cultivating water chestnut, which has become the means of livelihood for many marginal farmers in the area.
Many farmers in the region are gradually opting for water chestnut cultivation because of its cost-effectiveness.
Farmer Amin Ali of Borobhita village in Natore Sadar upazila said, "I cultivated water chestnut on four bighas of land this year, with a production cost of around Tk 40,000. I hope to sell the produce for Tk 80,000 to Tk 90,000.”
Hazrat Ali of the same village said he cultivates water chestnut every year as the item is very profitable.
Although his water chestnut field suffered a pest attack this year, none of the agriculture officials came to help him out of the trouble, Hazrat said.
“I spent Tk 10,000 to cultivate water chestnut on two bighas of land,” another farmer of the village Mozammel Hossain said, adding that due to good production this year he hopes to make profit of Tk 30,000 to Tk 40,000.
One maund of water chestnut is selling for Tk 800 to Tk 1000 at the wholesale markets, he said.
According to Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Natore and Naogaon about 10 hectares of land have been brought under water chestnut cultivation this year, while the item is cultivated on 32 hectares in Naogaon.
In Naogaon, water chestnut was cultivated on 15 hectares of land in 2016, 16 hectares in 2017 and 32 hectares this year.
Meanwhile, farmers in Natore cultivated the item on five hectares of land in 2016, nine hectares in 2017 and 10 hectares this year.
Naogaon DAE Deputy Director Monojit Kumar Mallick said they have been inspiring the farmers to cultivate water chestnut in the wetlands as they usually remain waterlogged during the Boro season.