Cotton cultivation is on the rise in Kurigram district, capturing the attention of a growing number of local farmers. This surge in popularity can be attributed to the attractive profitability and minimal cultivation costs associated with cotton farming.
The cotton planting season, which aligns with the Bangla months of Srabon and Bhadra, offers an impressive three harvests within a span of just six months. To support the local farming community, loans are extended to farmers following field inspections, ensuring they have the necessary resources to embark on their cotton cultivation journey. Additionally, the government has actively engaged in purchasing cotton directly from growers, facilitating the subsequent separation of seeds and fiber through private companies such as ginar.
Cotton enthusiasts in Kurigram district can choose from three varieties of cotton seeds: Local, Supreme, Highbred, and Cotton Development Board (CDB) Hybrid. The production yields per bigha vary according to the variety, with Local cotton producing 8-10 mounds, Supreme Hybrid yielding 20-25 mounds, and CDB Hybrid falling in between at 15-20 mounds. The market prices per kilogram of seed also vary, with Local cotton priced at Tk. 23, Supreme Hybrid at Tk. 3,000, and CDB Hybrid at Tk. 500.
Successful cotton cultivation requires elevated land that is impervious to floodwaters. This cotton crop is strategically cultivated during the Aman paddy season, with some farmers opting to replace their Aman paddy crops with cotton.
In the current year, cotton cultivation has targeted a vast 332 hectares of land in the district. These ambitious goals encompass 172 hectares for Supreme Hybrid, 70 hectares for CDB Hybrid, and 90 hectares for Local cotton, with an overarching production target of 1000 mounds. Last year, despite setbacks caused by flooding, 800 mounds were produced on 163 hectares of land.
Notably, most of Fulbari upazila's land in the district is elevated, making it conducive to cotton cultivation. However, in the remaining eight upazilas, cotton farming remains a rarity.
A recent visit to Balatari village under the Naodanga union of the upazila revealed vast expanses of land dedicated to cotton cultivation, extending into the neighboring Indian frontier areas. Local farmers, including Azimul (34), Obaidul (40), and Mazidul (42), emphasized the lucrative nature of cotton farming, often intercropping vegetables within cotton fields. They attested that cotton cultivation consistently outperformed traditional paddy and other crops. The average cultivation cost for one bigha of land stands at Tk. 15,000, resulting in a cotton yield of 15-20 mounds. At a price of Tk. 3,800 per mound, this equates to Tk. 76,000 in revenue. After deducting cultivation costs, the net profit reaches an impressive Tk. 61,000.
Local reporter Abdul Aziz Moznu shared his perspective, noting the rapid increase in the number of cotton farmers, citing its substantial profitability compared to paddy cultivation. Cotton offers a three-fold profit when compared to Aman paddy, as it produces 20 mounds per bigha, as opposed to paddy's 10-12 mounds. Paddy typically sells for Tk. 1,000-1,100 per mound, while cotton commands Tk. 3,800.
Lutfar Rahman, the Cotton Unit Officer of Fulbari upazila, emphasized the surging demand for cotton in the country, estimated at 80 lakh bales (1 bale = 3.50 mounds). Sadly, local production falls significantly short at only 2 lakh bales, necessitating significant imports from countries such as America, Africa, Turkey, China, and Egypt. Rahman also highlighted the manpower shortage that hampers official activities, revealing that there are just two staff members: one officer and one administrative staff member. Efforts are underway to address this challenge and further bolster cotton production in Kurigram district.