The sandy chars of the Jamuna and Dhaleswari rivers in Tangail have turned green this year with the promise of peanuts. In village after village, land that sometimes hosted tobacco but was as often unfarmed, is proving ideal for peanut production.
“I used to grow tobacco but this year I chose a peanut hybrid,” says Mohammad Ali, a farmer from Gabsara village in Bhuapur upazila. “Peanuts cost less to grow and offer good profit.”
“I harvested up to nine maunds of peanuts per bigha from my seven bighas of land,” says Abdur Rashid from Omarpur village in Tangail Sadar upazila. “Each maund sells for around Tk 3,000 so I am pleased with the result.”
According to local agriculture officials, the sandy loam soils of the char (landmass emerging from riverbed) areas are favourable for peanut cultivation, with fields usually sown in November in anticipation of a summer harvest. This season's yields have been consolidated with the introduction of the BARI-8 hybrid developed by the Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute.
“To help peanut growers we have been teaching them modern farming techniques including how to apply balanced fertilisers like urea, potash and gypsum, and when to spray insecticides,” says Dr Aminur Rahman, senior research officer at the Tangail branch of the institute.
“I always grew local varieties,” says Shafiqul Islam, a farmer from Bolorampur village in Bhuapur. “But this year I tried the BARI-8 hybrid and it looks as though the harvest will be almost double.”
Abdur Razzak, the deputy director of the agriculture extension department reports that four peanut hybrids are being cultivated on 2,136 hectares across several upazilas in the district, which has exceeded expectations.
Cultivated peanuts, which were likely first developed from wild plants in northern Argentina almost 8,000 years ago, are vitamin-rich, a good source of protein, and helpful in reducing the risk of both heart disease and gallstones.