Amir Hossain, a chilli farmer of Bogura's major chilli farming tract Sariakandi upazila, has been cultivating on three bighas land for the last seven years and he plans on continuing it as he is making good profits, also true for other chilli farmers in the area.
Amir, who farms at a char area, known as Nijbalail in Haatsherpur union, said that chilli farming on char lands has its perks.
"Flood leaves silts on the Jamuna River char areas making the ground even more fertile for chilli farming. Besides, it requires a small amount of fertilisers and insecticides." he said.
"It is possible to make Tk50,000 to Tk60,000 per bigha," he added.
With the hybrid chilli variety cultivation becoming more popular among the farmers, yearly chilli production target in Bogura is expected to exceed again this fiscal year, according to information from the Department of Agricultural Extension.
Bogura, known for producing quality red chillies, has recorded an estimated over Tk300 crore worth of chillies' production for a second fiscal (2020-21) in a row. Of the estimated sup Sariakandi upazila alone accounted for over Tk113 crore while the remaining bulk of the capsicum family spice was farmed in 11 upazilas of the district.
Department of Agricultural Extension, Bogura officials said chilli was cultivated on 6,980 hectares of land against the target of 7,615 hectares. In the district. A total of 17,799 tonnes of chilli were harvested, the market value of which is estimated over Tk222 crore 48 lakh.
During the Kharip season, (Bangla calender months Choitro to Bhadro) cultivation on 853 hectares of land produced 2005 tonnes of chilli. At a market price of Tk1,25,000 value of the total Kharip season yield is approximately over Tk25 crore, 6 lakhs.
According to data from the agricultural extension department, total production in Bogura in 2020-21 fiscal year, including the Robi season (Ashsin to Falgun) output is worth Tk247 crore 55lakh, which reached at least Tk300 crore added to the sales of green chilli.
Target for chilli cultivation in the current fiscal was set at 7100 hectares, of which 6152 hectares have been cultivated and the production target is 18,176 tonnes.
The fiscal year before (2019-20), 17,895 tonnes of chillies, valued at over Tk287 crore 64 lakh, were harvested from 7,615 hectares of land in Bogura. In fiscal year 2018-19, cultivation on 7,671 hectares yielded 16,140 tons Chilli, valued over 259crore 43 lakh.
Bogura's Sariakandi upazila, which is predominantly char areas by the Jamuna River banks, produces the biggest chunk of the district's total chilli production. Seven of the 12 unions of the upazila are char areas and farmers cultivate chilli on more than half the total land.
In Sariakanda alone, chilli cultivation was done on a 3705 hectare area that amounted to over Tk113 crore 31lakh.
According to official data, chilli cultivation and processing has contributed to the employment of 4,53,975 men and women in the district. Another nearly 2000 workers are involved in transportation, packaging and related seasonal works.
Chilli farmers said, 30-35 maunds of green Chilli can be cultivated in one bigha land, while it produces 10-12 maunds dried chillies. Price of dried chillies per maund is Tk7000, which means it is possible to produce Tk 84,000 worth of chillies in one bigha.
Nur Alam, another chilli farmer from Sonatala upazila, provides for his family through only cultivating chillies.
"This is very profitable if there is no natural disaster,"he said adding that demand is also good and people from different big companies come to the area and buy chillies."
According to the locals, leading private companies of the country, including Square, ACI and Pran, sources chillies from the area.
"We buy chillies from local farmers and supply them to various companies. Some traders supply up to 100 tonnes per year to companies including Square, ACI, Pran," said Mohammad Ali, a chilli wholesaler at the upazila's Hatphulbari area.
Agriculture department officials also noted that Bogura farmers are inclining more towards cultivating the hybrid variety chilli, as the production is double that of the local variety.
This fiscal year local chilli variety has been cultivated on 2,000 hectares of land while hybrid variety on 1,640 hectares. Last year the hybrid variety was cultivated on 600 hectares of land and in 2019 the hybrid chili farming was done on 100 hectares in the upazila.
Rokon Uddin, a farmer of Mayuyer Char in Kajla Union of the upazila, said that the yield of hybrid chilli is much higher than that of native pepper.
Upazila Agriculture Officer Abdul Halim said both the production and profit in the hybrid variety is higher.
"Naturally farmers are more interested in cultivating the hybrid variety," he said.