With the use of new technologies in the country's agriculture, the power thresher manufacturing industry in Naogaon has been growing. There has been increasing demand for power threshers among farmers as the machines save time and lessen the hassles farmers had to go through in threshing paddy and other crops.
Currently there are around 80 power thresher manufacturing factories in the Patnitala and Dhamoirhat upazilas of Naogaon, employing more than 700 labourers. On average, these factories produce and supply the country with around 2,000 threshers, worth Tk56 crore.
Around 10 years ago when the power thresher manufacturing industry began to emerge in the district, 500-600 power threshers were produced yearly. Gradually, demand increased and in 2015, annual production grew to 800-1,000 units.
Farmers say government subsidies halve the cost of a thresher, which has motivated farmers to buy more machines.
Usually it takes about six days for six people to make a threshing machine in a factory. The price of each fully prepared threshing machine is Tk2.80 lakh. As such, the price of 2,000 instruments stands at around Tk56 crore.
Threshers produced in Naogaon go to Noakhali, Jashore, Chuadanga, Kushtia, Meherpur, Nilphamari, Dinajpur, Rangpur and a few more districts, where threshing machines are used more in Boro and Aman seasons. Besides threshing paddy, they are used to thresh other crops such as mustard, sesame, linseed, wheat, coriander, and kalai.
Farmers find the machines useful since they do not have to depend on scarce labour and spend less on threshing and cleaning. In the past, there were times when many crops were damaged due to a lack of workers for threshing crops.
Shahinur Islam, owner of Satata Engineering Workshop, manufactures 80-90 threshing machines a year. He says demand for auto threshing machines is high in the market at present because it is possible to thresh paddy from an acre of land in an hour with a power thresher.
In Najipur bazar of the district, Harun Ur Rashid has been manufacturing power threshers since 2010 with 18 labourers working at his factory.
He says he has an agreement with thresher manufacturing workers who make a thresher machine for Tk18,000-20,000. He also provides them free lunch. Threshers are manufactured on orders from various businessmen across the country.
"The demand for power threshers has increased in the last five to six years with government subsidies to farmers for buying threshers and other agricultural machinery. If we also get loans on easy terms, we can expand our business and manufacture more machines," he added.
Thresher manufacturers are working on upgrading the machines so that dry stalks of paddy and other crops remain intact after threshing instead of being cut into pieces, he said.
Najipur power thresher traders' association General Secretary Masum Reza said traders find it difficult to get loans from public banks that demand collateral. As most of them are small entrepreneurs they cannot afford collateral.
"No bank has come up with any special facility for us. Some private organisations are interested to provide loans but at a very high interest rate. A little help from the government can greatly help move the industry forward," he added.
Deputy Director of Naogaon's Agriculture Extension Department, Md Shamsul Wadud, said quality rice threshing machines are being manufactured in Patnitala and Dhamairhat where senior officials regularly inspect factories.
"We are trying to expand this industry and are also thinking of ways to make bank loans easier for entrepreneurs," he added.