Over 4.34 lakh tonnes of mustard seeds have been harvested during the current harvesting season, up by 1.27 lakh tonnes compared to the previous season, in the division.
Additional Director of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) Shamsul Wadud said the mustard cultivation was achieved on around 2.77 lakh hectares of land in all eight districts of the division, while the previous year's acreage was 2.13 lakh hectares.
The DAE had set the target to bring 2.47 lakh hectares of land under the cash crop farming but the enthusiastic farmers cultivated it on around 2.77 lakh hectares of land exceeding the target by 28,878 hectares.
Suitable climate conditions, high yielding varieties, modern technologies and government's incentive were reasons for exceeding the targets of both acreage and yield this season, he said.
Agriculturist Wadud said most of the lands were brought under cultivation of high yielding varieties including BARI Sharisha-9, BARI Sharisha-11, BARI Sharisha-13, BARI Sharisha-16, BARI Sharisha-17 and BARI Sharisha- 18.
He said 2.07 lakh farmers were given seeds and fertilizers worth around Taka 5.58 crore free of cost for cultivating mustard in the division under the government's agriculture incentive programme.
In addition to the DAE, various other research and development organisations like Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) and many NGOs had taken adequate steps in collaboration with other line departments to boost the mustard yield.
BARI has released 16 high yielding mustard seed varieties. Farmers in the barind tract are seen cultivating three of those - BARI Sharisha-14, BARI Sharisha-17 and BARI Sharisha-18 varieties for the last couple of years.
But, BARI Sharisha 14 has become popular for its bold grain, high yielding, yellow colour, high oil extraction percentage and less-water consuming characteristics.
With this breakthrough, the landless and marginal farmers had brought vast tracts of the sandy char lands under mustard cultivation in the Ganges basins and the crops had grown up excellently everywhere in the region.
DASCOH Foundation, an NGO, on behalf of its Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) Project has been working for promoting various less-water consuming crops like mustard supported by Switzerland, said Jahangir Alam Khan, coordinator of the project.
He said mustard seed is a water-saving crop and its expansion in the Barind area is very important towards lessening the gradually mounting pressure on its underground water.
"I had cultivated mustard on four bighas of land and harvested six to seven mounds of seed per bigha on an average," said Sabbir Ahmed, a grower of Bijoynagar area under Godagari upazila.
He used the "Barisharisha 14" variety which is higher yielding than that of the conventional ones including "Tory 7".
Rashidul Hassan, 45, another farmer of Kakonhat village, has become successful through cultivating the cash crop for the last couple of years. This year, he cultivated the crop on four bighas of land.
The cultivation of mustard requires only one or two times irrigation while about Taka 1,900 to Taka 2,000 is needed to cultivate the crop on one bigha depending on soil condition.
On an average six maunds of mustard are produced on a bigha of land, Hassan said.
Bachhu Mian, 45, of Amnura area in Chapainawabganj Sadar upazila, had brought three bighas of land under the cash crop cultivation.
He got six maunds of yield after rowing the "Barisharisha-17" which is another newly released high yielding variety.Another farmer Abdul Mazid, 35, of Nandigram village under Durgapur upazila, had cultivated mustard seed on three bighas of land this year and got yield of six mounds per bigha.
He said the easy cultivation process and lower production cost compared to other Rabi crops is also a reason behind the popularity of mustard farming among the farmers in the region including its vast Barind tract.