Farmers in Kishoreganj upazila are now passing busy times in cultivating highly profitable early variety potatoes, which are ready for harvest 30 per cent faster than other varieties and normally bear higher price tags.
This potato variety can be harvested in 60 days after sowing seeds, much lower than the 90 days needed by other varieties, farmers in Nilphamari district said.
The early variety remains in the market for a short time and are normally sold at Tk 70-80 a kg. And this year, farmers believe the prices will be as high as Tk 100 per kg.
"This potato variety, despite being highly priced, is very popular among buyers because of its early availability and taste," said Habibur Rahman, the upazila's agriculture officer.
Yesterday, the cardinal and red potatoes -- two traditional varieties which can be preserved throughout the year -- were sold at the local markets at Tk 40 and Tk 50 per kg.
During visits to different potato producing villages, including Panialpukur, Durakuti, Nitai and Kalikapur, this correspondent found that farmers and labourers are sowing seeds, some are making drains in between rows for irrigation, some are hoeing the weeds while others are breaking earthen blocks with wooden tools.
Traditional potatoes are usually sown in December and harvested in March.
Normally, the early variety potato seeds are sown in September but this year, floods have delayed the process by a month.
However, farmers believe that the delay will not be able to leave an impact on yield as they are taking extra care of the fields.
"This short-duration potato variety is helping us make double profits. We can now cultivate potato twice on same land in a season," said farmer Sabed Ali of Putimari village.
"At first we sow early potato in September-October and then we go for production with the traditional variety in mid-December.
"We are blessed as when we sell the early potato, farmers in other areas of the country can merely prepare land for sowing seeds," said Shamim Hossain Babu, another farmer of Durakuti village.
Farmer Yakub Ali of Kalikapur village said he sowed the early variety of potato on three bighas of land and expects to get a yield of 90 maunds.
"My total production cost will be Tk 75,000 and I believe I can sell the produce at Tk 2.20 lakh if I sell each kilogramme of potato at Tk 60," he added.
"It is inspiring to see that Kishoreganj's early harvested potatoes are taken to vegetable markets in the capital at the very beginning of the season," said Habibur Rahman.
Traders from Dhaka and other big cities come directly to different villages in Kishoreganj with trucks to purchase early potato in November and December, said Md Farhanul Haque, senior vice-president of Nilphamari Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
"We try to cooperate with them as the crop is harvested here much earlier than other districts in the country," he added.
Liaquat Ali, sub assistant agriculture officer of Kishoreganj, said this year they target to cultivate the short-duration early variety potato in around 7,000 hectares, up from 6,500 hectares last year.