Farmers in six districts in Jashore region have been inclined to cultivate cotton for the last few years due to continued losses in other crops including paddy.
The six districts – Gopalganj, Satkhira, Jashore, Jhenaidah, Barisal and Jhalokati – alone are producing an average of 19,000 bales (1 bale=182 kg) of cotton per year worth more than Tk41.49 crores.
Farmers say that even if cotton is harvested late, there is no risk of loss. So, they are increasing cotton cultivation.
"Cotton cultivation has been increasing in Jashore for the last 5-6 years. Farmers have become interested in cotton cultivation as they do not get much profit from other crops including paddy," said Qutb Uddin, chief cotton development officer at Cotton Development Board Jashore Zonal Office.
"We have provided local seeds to the farmers here. The yield is twenty-one maunds per bigha with this seed. The cotton produced in our country is of international standard," he added.
"We lend to farmers. In the last five years, we have given Tk1.5 crores in loans. We have already collected Tk94.63 lakh. Farmers are increasing their cultivation by getting loan facility," he said further.
According to the Jashore Cotton Development Office, in 2016-17, the target for cotton cultivation in six districts was set at 2,465 hectares, and the production was 18,265 bales from 3,200 hectares of land.
In 2018-19, cotton was cultivated in 3,105 hectares, out of the targetted 3,500 hectares, and the production was 18 thousand 698 bales.
The target for 2019-20 was 3,500 hectares. Cotton was planted in 3,125 hectares and the production was 19,230 bales.
In 2020-21, the target for cultivation has been set at 19,300 bales from 3,200 hectares of land. Farmers have already started sowing seeds, officials said.
Cotton Instead of Paddy And Jute
Mozaffar Hossain of Sujalpur village in Jashore said he had cultivated cotton last year and it was profitable while he had to count losses after cultivating paddy on the same land the previous year. This year, he is going to plant cotton in two bighas of land.
Asadul Islam, a farmer from Barobazar area of Jhenaidah, said he had taken all preparations for planting cotton on three bighas this season. Last year he planted cotton in the same amount of land and got a good yield.
Rezaul Islam of Khajura area in Jashore is now cultivating cotton in five bighas of land. Last year, he planted cotton in two bighas of land and got a yield of 32 maunds with a cost of Tk9,000. He sold cotton for Tk2,500 per maund.
Mizanur Rahman of Shiorda village in Jhikargachha upazila said he had planted cotton on three bighas of land last year and got a yield of 14 maunds. The cost was about Tk12,000. He will cultivate cotton in the same amount of land this season.
He said cultivation of paddy and jute was no longer profitable because the moneylenders take all the profits.