Potato farming has become a lucrative business as many people attained success in terms of making them financially solvent in Rajshahi region, including its vast Barind tract, for the last couple of years.
Abdul Baki, 54, a resident of the Mollapara area in Rajshahi city, has cultivated potatoes on 80 bigha of land at Krishnapur area under Tanore upazila in the district this year with the hope of making a profit through his venture.
"I'm very much optimistic about harvesting 120 maunds of yield from each bigha of land if the present climatic conditions remain until the end of harvesting," he said.
Newly harvested potatoes have been appearing in both the wholesale and retail markets for the last couple of weeks abundantly.
Baqui said potatoes are being sold at Tk 520-550 per maund in the wholesale markets, while at Tk 600-800 in retail markets on average at present.
Mosarraf Hossain, 45, another commercial farmer in the Krishnapur area, said potato cultivation eventually inspired the local farmers. Potato cultivation in Tanore had expanded to around 6,000 hectares of land.
He is witnessing a revolution in potato farming in the last couple of years. Tanore and Godagari upazilas are now considered the second largest source of potatoes.
Hossain is estimating that potatoes worth around Tk 550 crore will be sold from only Tanore this season.
Now, however, the landowners are no longer appeased with just a sack of potatoes. They lease their land out for Tk 8,000-10,000 for potato cultivation on one bigha of land.
As the potatoes of the Barind area are high in both quality and quantity, farmers sell one sack of 70kg for Tk 150-200 higher than elsewhere. They produce 40 per cent of the potatoes harvested in Rajshahi district.
Kazi Rashidul Islam, another potato farmer from Mohanpur, is cultivating potatoes on 300 bighas of land this year. Besides farming, he sells potato seeds. This year he will collect 300 tonnes of seeds. Of these, he has sowed 100 tonnes of seeds for his own scheme.
Seeing the business opportunity, Abdul Awal, a resident of Mundumala under Tanore, has started potato farming on a lease basis. He has cultivated potatoes on 85 bighas of land.
Many Tanore and Godagari residents sold their one-crop fields to buyers from different areas. Now potatoes are being produced on these lands.
Mijanur Rahman, an operator of a deep-tube-well in Krishnapur village, said the farmers are seen cultivating potatoes more instead of Boro paddy in the Barind area and the Tanore and Godagari upazilas in particular.
He identically mentioned that the farmers are interested in potato farming as it's being adjudged as a less-irrigation-consuming crop than the boro paddy.
Meanwhile, around 36.52 lakh tonnes of potatoes are expected to be produced from 1.69 lakh hectares of land in all eight districts of the division during the current Rabi season.
Official data showed the target of producing 14.15 lakh tonnes of potato has been set from 60,816 hectares of land in four districts of the Rajshahi Agricultural Zone, while 22.38 lakh tonnes from 98,095 hectares in four other districts of the Bogura zone.
The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) has set the target and adopted all sorts of measures to attain the cherished goal, said Shamsul Wadud, Additional Director of the DAE.
In the previous season, over 36.25 lakh tonnes of potatoes were produced from around 1.65 lakh hectares of land in the division making the farmers happy due to its good yield and cherished market price during the current season.