Betel leaf grows in different parts of the district and its adjacent areas as an important cash crop that contributes a lot to bring back fortune to many farmers.
Some parts of the region are famous for its production. Mohanpur and Bagmara upazilas in the district are the only places where sweet betel leaf is grown. Still now, many people both local and outsiders search for the sweet betel leaf in the markets.Prof Nurul Alam of Crop Science and Technology Department of Rajshahi University said betel leaf farming is profitable than many other crops if it’s grown properly.He mentioned Taka two to three lakh could be cashed from one bigha of land if the farming was modernized and that is the demand of time.In this context, he said acreage of betel leaf farming is around 2,000 hectares in the district producing around 35,000 tonnes of crops valued at around Taka 90 crore annually and over 25,000 farmers are involved in its farming directly.Betel-leaf grown in the district has tremendous demand at home and abroad for its quality and flavor and the demand is increasing day by day.As there is no Betel-Leaf Research Institute in the country, the farmers have no room to seek advice for increasing quantity and improving quality of the cash crop further.Quite frequently, he said, betel-leaf production in Mohanpur, Bagmara and Paba upazilas faces setback because of frequent virus attack.So farmers always remain worried about getting back their investment. Even after washing and refining the betel-leaf stems with pesticides and chemicals as recommended by the DAE, the shoots emerging from the transplanted stem are not healthy and many of them are also attacked by virus.In view of this, Prof Alam said, establishment of such institute in Rajshahi will be highly helpful to the growers. Besides farmers, students of agriculture department would also be benefited from the institute, he added.Mohanpur agriculture office sources said that farmers are now preparing their lands measuring 552 hectares to transplant betel-leaf plants, while officials are giving proper advices to them to have good yield.But the farmers are not happy with the advice of agriculture officials.Unknown virus is attacking their betel-leaf stems and leaves. They do not know how to get rid of this problem.Of the three upazilas, Mohanpur is the largest betel leaf producing area. Betel-leaf of Mohanpur is sold all over the country.Ansar Ali, a farmer of Soipara village, said that farmers suffer loss due to frequent virus attack and other natural calamities including cold bite and storm.Rejaul Haque from Bargachhi village under Paba upazila, held the same view.Though the market price of betel leaves is high, the farmers are not happy with the crop loss. They demand immediate measures by the authority against the virus. Otherwise, they fear, loss from the ‘boroj’ will discourage farmers from growing betel leaves.“We extend necessary farming tactics to the growers of betel leaf together with disease control measures,” said Hazrat Ali, Deputy Director of DAE. -BSS, Rajshahi