Farming of lentil is increasing gradually in the region including its vast Barind tract as it requires less cost for cultivation and irrigation compared to many other crops especially paddy.
The farmers are showing more interest in lentil cultivation since they got its lucrative market price in the last couple of years.
"We are cultivating lentil to avoid hustle in getting irrigation water for paddy," said Obaidur Rahman, a farmer of Alinagar village under Gomostapur Upazila. He mentioned that acreage of lentil is increasing day by day.
Obaidur said: "I have cultivated lentil in two-bigha land this year without spending extra for irrigation. A farmer can get four to five maunds of lentil from per bigha of land. One maund of lentil is now selling at Tk 3,800 to 4,000 in local markets".
Prof Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan, who conducts research on water issues in Barind, said the farmers in high barind areas of Rajshahi, Naogaon and Chapainawabgonj districts have to spend much for irrigation in paddy farming, but lentil cultivation needs less irrigation. Hence, they incur loss in paddy cultivation every year.
"Due to climate change, the groundwater level has gone down. Earlier, water was available in tube-wells at 35 feet deep, but now it has reached at 120 to 145 feet. For this reason, the farmers have to spend extra for paddy cultivation, but they can save the cost through cultivation of various less-water consuming crops like lentil, wheat, maize, potato and some other crops."
Dev Dulal Dhali, Deputy Director of Department of Agriculture Extension said, the farmers here have cultivated lentil in around 6,500 hectares of land this year but they cultivated over 3,000 ha in the previous year only in Godagari Upazila. Following the hike in irrigation cost for paddy farming, the farmers are now cultivating different Rabi crops.
He further said the growers here are showing more interest in lentil cultivation as it does not need much irrigation cost. Besides, they got abundant production in the last few years.
Dr Shakhawat Hossain, Senior Scientific Officer of Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute, here said prospects of boosting lentil output are bright in the region including the vast barind tract.
Around 80,000 hectares of land remain fallow for more than three months after the harvest of transplanted aman paddy every year. There has been a bright scope of bringing the huge land under the pulse farming for the best uses of those alongside increasing cropping intensity amid the current water-stress condition.
If the yield could be enhanced to the expected level through successful expansion of the modern cultivation method among the growers, country's hard-earned foreign currencies would be saved.
The country has to import huge quantity of pulses especially lentil to meet its domestic demand. Since there is a bright prospect of increasing its acreage, lentil could be produced in larger amount with less production cost and the yield will no doubt lessen pressure on import.