Once farmers of Pirojpur used to cultivate more than 50 varieties of paddy during Aman season. But currently, only five to six varieties exist as the rests appeared to have vanished, according to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE).
Low production from local varieties of paddy as well as unwillingness to take farming as profession are the primary reasons behind the extinction of the most of local varieties, farmers said.
Kartikshaiyl, Kajalshaiyl, Naijarshaiyl, Sadamota, Lalmota, Kharamota, Lalkartik, Monteshwar, Dudkalam, Nonakhurchi, Rajashaiyl, Lakma, Chapshaiyl, Ghegosh, Betichikan, Naspati and Charbaleshwar were among the major varieties of paddy.
But currently, Sadamota, Lalmota, Monteshwar, Dudkalam and some highbred varieties are popular among the farmers as those are more profitable due to its high yield, said farmers.
“As farming was the profession of our forefathers, we are engaged with it till now,” said Jahidul Islam, a farmer of Kalaiya village of Pirojpur’s Indurkani upazila. “But, we can’t cultivate all the varieties our forefathers used to cultivate as most of them do not exist anymore,” Jahidul said.
Farmers said in the past they would meet the demand of rice cultivating paddy on their own fields.
“Even, we used to collect these varieties of rice for different purposes like making cake, puffed rice and flavoured rice,” said elderly farmer Abdul Latif Howlder.
People are now not interested to take farming as profession. Instead of farming, they like to work in other sectors such as construction and driving public vehicles, he said.
“During peak season of cultivating and harvesting paddy, it gets difficult to arrange labourer even with high payment,” said another farmer Romis Howlader.
Besides, low production from local varieties is another reason behind these verities going extinct.
Farmer Mohammad Shahjahan said, “Cost of farming is also increasing alarmingly but farmers can’t get expected profit from this sector.”
Admitting to the issue, Mohammad Nazrul Islam Sikder, deputy director of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Pirojpur, said, “As farmers have to produce more paddy on limited land, they are interested in cultivating different highbrid varieties. They also cultivate a handful of local varieties as those are profitable,” he said
Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) has revived many of the traditional varieties but their qualities are not the same, he added.