Many tobacco growers in the district have switched to maize farming instead of tobacco this year, thanks to the awareness building campaigns by an anti-tobacco organisation and the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE).
District DAE Deputy Director (DD) Bidhubhushon Roy said tobacco has been cultivated on 8,300 hectares of land this year, while it was 14,500 hectares last year, and maize has been cultivated on 29,700 hectares this year, while it was 25,200 hectares last year.
“I cultivated tobacco on my 15 bighas of land for the last 15 years, but from this year I started farming maize as I have understood tobacco farming is harmful for the soil and the environment,” said Nur Islam, 55, of Karnopur village in Sadar upazila. “I will never use my land for farming tobacco in future,” he added.
Aynal Haque, 48, a farmer of Durarkuti village in Aditmari upazila, said he used to grow tobacco on his 12 bighas of land before, but he has cultivated maize this year. “I have said goodbye to tobacco farming forever from this year as I am aware of its bad effects,” he said, adding that tobacco farming destroyed the fertility of his land.
“I got more profit from maize farming than from tobacco farming last year, so I have cultivated maize on my eight bighas instead of tobacco this year. I also understood that tobacco farming is harmful for our health,” said Mantazu Islam, 55, of Bhelabari village in the upazila.
“It has been decided that farmers in our village will bid goodbye to tobacco farming forever from next year,” said Sheher Ali, 58, of Dighaltari village in the upazila. “It is true that tobacco farming brings profit, but it is harmful for soil fertility, environment and our health,” he added.
A member of district Anti Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA) Khorshed Alam told this correspondent that ATMA works for building awareness against tobacco farming among the farmers in the district, and their campaign is bringing good result every day.
DD of DAE said agriculture officials and ATMA conduct campaigns jointly to motivate farmers to avoid tobacco farming. “Farmers now understand the harmfulness of tobacco farming and are saying goodbye to it,” he said, adding that many tobacco growers have started farming other crops instead of tobacco.