Jhapa farmers are growing tobacco, a crop more profitable than paddyTobacco is being sold at Rs 3,000 per 40kg with a kattha of land being good enough to produce 80kg of tobacco.
According to Shambhu Singha Rajbanshi, Bahradashi Village Municipality-1 Ward Chairman, tobacco farming is being done in around 15 bighas of land. He said the farmers are earning more from tobacco in a short period of time, compared to paddy.
Tobacco farming is done for four months, as soon as the paddy harvesting gets complete.
Fagulal Rajbanshi of Bahradashi-1 planted tobacco in 2 kathas of land this year. He planted tobacco in a few areas of his land as he alone works in the field. Planted in mid-November, Rajbanshi’s tobacco is now ready to harvest.
Tobacco is being sold at Rs3,000 per 40 kg. A kattha of land can produce 80 kg of tobacco, said Rajbanshi. Tobacco traders go to the farmers’ fields to purchase the commodity.
As the seeds for tobacco are being produced by farmers, the cost for farming is comparatively less, he said.
“Though the expenses are less, one needs to work hard,” said Rajbanshi. “I have to work on the field almost all the time,” he added. The unnecessary grass needs to be cleared, insects and worms need to be weeded out from the farm,” he said.
Fagulal will be harvesting his crop in mid-March and it needs to be dried for 15 days, avoiding water.
Tobacco farming is also good at Gobar Mala, said another farmer, Janakulal Rajbanshi.
The farmers are interested in doing tobacco farming as the wild animals from the nearby villages do not vandalise the farm, he said. “The wild elephants coming from the nearby forests damage other crops, but they have never damaged the tobacco farm,” he said.
Fertile soil is important for tobacco farming. Repeatedly doing tobacco farming on the same land takes away vital nutrients and so, the farming should be done on different patches of land annually, said Rajbanshi.
Rajbanshi said the individual tobacco saplings are planted at a difference of two feet. Regular care of the plant, watering and fertilizers are a must, for tobacco farming. There are different types of insects and diseases that can affect tobacco plants and therefore, the plants need to be timely checked.
Similarly, there is a certain process for selling tobacco. The farmers cannot sell tobacco directly to the traders.
“The farmers should take the recommendation letter from the ward office before selling tobacco. The farmer needs to write an application citing the quantity of tobacco that will be sold, including the name of the buyer,” said the ward officer, Rajbanshi. “Upon receiving the letter, the ward office makes its recommendations.”
At present, tobacco farming is being done in the district’s Bhagdubba, Rajgadh, Gharabari and Patharia areas.