Chuadanga expects to produce 10,000 tonnes of cotton worth Tk85 crore this season as there has been a rise both in number of cotton farmers and in land area under the crop in the district this year compared to the previous few years.
Besides, farmers have followed the seedling transplantation method – similar to that in paddy cultivation, instead of sowing seeds in the field, which also will help increase the output, according to stakeholders.
In 2020, the production of cotton in Chuadanga was 9,772 tonnes from 4,000 hectares of land. This year, cotton has been cultivated on 4,332 hectares of land in the district.
Local cotton board officials said farmers are inclined toward cotton cultivation as they are getting better yields by using hybrid seeds. Three varieties of hybrid seeds – Rupali-1, White Gold-1 and White Gold-2 – are mostly used, the yield being 8-10 maunds (1 maund = 37.32 kg) higher than that from traditional seeds per bigha.
Farmers also use a local variety named Ufasi OP developed by the Cotton Development Board. While one kg of hybrid seeds is required for one bigha of land, only 500-600 grams of Ufasi OP is needed for the same area of land.
Ideally, 3,000 seedlings are sowed on one bigha of land. One cotton plant contains 100-200 bolls. It costs Tk8,000-10,000 to cultivate cotton per bigha and around 15-20 maunds of cotton can be collected. Farmers can make a profit of Tk51,000-68,000 at a market price of Tk3,400 per maund.
Cotton is a long-term crop. As such, farmers cultivate other crops, notably pulses, onions, garlic, etc, with cotton and make better profits, which is also a reason for farmers' growing interest in cotton cultivation.
Cotton farmer Eyamin Ali from Chuadanga's Belgachi village has cultivated cotton on five bighas of land.
He said cotton cultivation is easier and more profitable compared to other crops as it requires less fertiliser and insecticide.
He expects to have 15-17 maunds of cotton per bigha.
Another farmer, Monjur Kadir from the same village, cultivated onions and garlic along with cotton on seven bighas of land. The yield of onions and garlic was very good, giving him a good profit. He is expecting a good yield of cotton too.
Duke Huda from Alamdanga upazila, who used to grow paddy, has cultivated cotton this year as cotton farming is less costly. The Cotton Development Board has provided all-out support to him.
Sheikh Al Mamun, chief of the Chuadanga zone of the Cotton Development, said the soil of Chuadanga and Kushtia districts is very suitable for cotton cultivation and the majority portion of the total demand for cotton in the country is met from these two districts.
Md Akhtaruzzaman, executive director of the Cotton Development Board, said the total demand for cotton in the country is 80 lakh bales. Of this, less than 5% is produced in the country.
Newly developed variety using nuclear technology, CDB Tula M-1 has raised new hope for cotton researchers and officials as it is expected to increase yields and farmers' income by 40%. Akhtaruzzaman earlier told The Business Standard that the board would distribute seeds of the new variant among farmers across the 13 cotton zones of the country.
The board is working to double production and reduce dependency on imports, he added.
"Cotton production has doubled in Bangladesh over the last 10 years. We are taking initiatives to produce hybrid cotton in all districts," he added.