A lot of farmers in six south-western districts have switched to maize farming this year from wheat due to fear of wheat blast disease, which caused huge loss for them in previous years.
Besides, maize farming will bring good profit, farmers said.
Dr Sunil Kumar Roy, deputy director (DD) of Jessore Regional Office of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), said farmers cultivated maize on 79, 566 hectares of land in the six districts in the region this year, while it was 42,600 hectares last year.
Farmers in Chuadanga district are on top of the list, cultivating the crop on 49,175 hectares.
The other districts include Meherpur, 7,850 hectares, Jhenidah, 13,134 hectares, Kushtia, 8,922 hectares, Jessore, 450 hectares, and Magura, 20 hectares. Production target is, 6,95,284 tonnes.
“I have avoided wheat farming as I was afraid that blast disease could attack the crop like in previous years,” said Asadul Islam of Dharmachaki village in Gangni upazila of Meherpur.
He is hopeful that he will get 90 to 110 maunds (one maund = 40 kg) of maize from one acre of land spending Tk 10,000 to Tk 12,000. He expects to earn Tk 35,000 to Tk 40,000. One maund of maize sells at Tk 420 to Tk 450.
He will also get seven to 10 maunds of stems, and sell it for Tk 220 to Tk 250 per maund, he added.
Romiz Uddin, a small farmer at Sarishadanga in Alamdanga upazila of Chuadanga, said the price of maize fell suddenly during harvesting last year. He cultivated maize on four bighas of land and is hopeful of earning good profit this year.
Meherpur DAE DD Dr Akteruzzaman said his office has taken various steps to help the farmers.
“Our teams are giving advice to the farmers through visiting fields and arranging training sessions for the farmers on how they can get good yield of the crop,” the official said.
DD Dr Sunil Kumar Roy said soil and environment in the districts are suitable for cultivating maize.
“Farmers are more interested in cultivating maize than other crops like wheat, especially in these areas,” Sunil said.
Blast disease in wheat plants was first seen in six districts of the region in 2016, he added.
The disease affected 15,000 hectares of wheat fields in Jessore, Kushtia, Chuadanga, Meherpur, Jhenidah, Magura, Barisal, and Bhola, causing up to 40 percent of crop damage, according to DAE.