Sunflowers brighten fields, Bangladeshi farmers' lives

A blooming sunflower field at Baniary village in Nazirpur upazila of Piropur.
PHOTO: The Daily Star/Asia News Network

Sunflowers add joy to any landscape. The sunflower fields of Pirojpur are painting the district bright. And beyond their visual beauty, to farmers sunflower cultivation brings good profits.

"We can make around Tk 10,000 (S$175) per bigha of land from sunflowers," says grower Amulya Ranjon Mondal from Raghunathpur village in Nazirpur upazila. He has been growing sunflowers for the past three years.

"Sunflowers aren't difficult to grow," says another farmer, Kishore Mondal from the same village. "They need only sufficient water. The only risk is from natural calamity. And sunflower oil is healthy. It has good demand and besides, we use it at home."

Separating the oil from the sunflowers is easier than other oilseeds, farmers say.

In addition, where after the aman paddy season fields used to remain fallow, sunflowers now provide an extra income source. The flowers are sown in December, with seeds collected towards the end of April. "We get extra profit from growing sunflowers as well as paddy," says Mojibor Sheikh, a grower from Shekhmatia in Nazirpur upazila.

According to the Department of Agriculture Extension, sunflowers in Pirojpur are cultivated on 178 hectares across the district, especially in Mathbaria and Nazirpur upazilas.

Various NGOs had been encouraging the crop by providing sunflower seeds free of cost, but from this year for the first time farmers are not receiving any such assistance.