‘Inter crops’ popular with sugarcane farming in Bandarban

Published : 31 Jul 2022 08:10 PM

Marmas call it ‘krayaing’, Chakmas say kucshel, Tripuras say Kruu Iksu and it is called sugarcane in English. It looks like bamboo and grows about 15-20 feet tall. Jaggery and sugar is made from it.

According to Bangladesh Sugarcrop Research Institute Bandarban office, it is known that there are 4 types of BSRI sugarcane-42 (Rangbilas), BSRI iksu-47, China and Senegal. Jaggery sugarcane variety VMC 86-550, BSRI Iksu-41 (Armat) including 6 varieties of Sugarcaneare being cultivated in four upazilas of Sadar, Rowangchari, Lama, Alikdam in Bandarban district. 

Sugarcane is not cultivated in Bandarban because there is no sugar factory there. Ikkhu is suitable for eating and selling between 10-11 months after planting the seeds. If sold wholesale, each eksu is sold at 15-20 taka, and if sold at retail, each eksu is sold at 30-40 taka. Cabbage, potatoes, vegetables in the middle of the row in the place of planting.

Farmers are benefiting from various inter crop growing including Radish.

A resident forest employee of Bandarban Sadar Upazila Jamchari Union, said that he was the first to start cultivation of Rangbilas variety in the area in 2009. This year Me Mong Marma (67) cultivated Rangbilas variety of Iksu. He cultivated Derkani (60th century) this year. 

He said this year there are 11 farmers from Kraikxyong Para. He is expecting to sell sugarcaneof two and a half lakh rupees this time. He said that if there is no natural calamity, there is good profit in Sugarcanefarming. Sugarcaneis 15-20 feet long when fully grown. If the sugarcaneis big and tall, it has to be tied with a pole so that the sugarcanedoes not fall, the price of a pole is 60-70 taka, every 40 hundred square meters produces about 11-12 thousand iksu, therefore only 25-30 thousand taka poles are needed for every 40 square meter, He said that there are costs and maintenance as well as profits. 

He complained that if the poor ikhu farmers would get low interest agricultural loans from banks, then the poor ikhu farmers would have benefited more and other farmers would have turned to ikhu farming. That is why Ikhu has requested the government to provide low interest agricultural loans to the farmers.

Sugarcane farmer Mong sing nu marma (45) of Jamchari area said that he worked in tobacco company for 22 years, he left his job and is working full-time as a farmer on his own land. Last year he sold Ikshu and Ikshu seeds worth Tk 3 lakh 50 thousand. This year he has cultivated 40 cents, although he wants to cultivate more, but it is not possible because of lack of workers, workers are not available on time, so he is taking care of the field himself, he said. Due to the labor shortage, he has cultivated only 40 hundred acres of land this year. 

He expects to sell 3 lakh rupees this year as well. He also said that no farmer had the idea that it is possible to do co-cropping with iksu, as per the advice of sugarcane research officers, the sugarcane farmers are benefiting by inter-cropping different vegetables, radishes, cabbage, potatoes with iksu, that is why sugarcanecultivation is increasing day by day in the area.

Another farmer of the same area, Khy nu mong marma (42), said that the diseases of Rangbilas variety of sugarcaneare less, the field officers provide regular supervision and advice to the sugarcanefarmers by providing sugarcaneseeds, fertilizers, pesticides and training to the farmers from the sugarcaneresearch office. He also said that the farmers would have benefited more if the marketing process could be made competitive.

About 1 thousand and 20 Sugarcane farmers have been trained in the last one year including how to grow companion crops with Iksu, how to produce Jaggery, farmers field day training.

In Bamdarban, 278 hectares in 2019-2020 financial year, 295 hectares in 2020-2021 financial year and 355 hectares in 2021-2022 financial year have been cultivated. In the financial year 2021-2022, Sugarcaneis being cultivated in 355 hectares in Bandarban, 295 hectares in Rangamati, and 440 hectares in Khagrachari. Sugarcane production cost is 1 lakh 73 thousand per hectare, profit is 6 lakh 75 thousand, net income per hectare is about 5 lakh rupees excluding all expenses.

Kya Shen, consultant agriculturist of Bangladesh Sugar Crop Research Institute Bandarban sub-centre, said that the cultivation of sugarcane is increasing day by day in three hill districts including Bandarban, in the future, poor farmers will be helped to get agricultural loans from the bank. The soil and climate of the three hill districts including Bandarban are very suitable for sugarcanecultivation and the sugarcanefarmers are benefiting greatly due to the overall support provided by the Bangladesh Sugarcrop Research Institute Bandarban to the sugarcanefarmers. This agriculturist said that there is a plan to make juice from the juice of Sugarcanein the future.