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By Dr Aynal Haque

RAJSHAHI, Aug 16, 2015 (BSS)- In the wake of gradually increasing demand and lucrative market price, cultivation of arum has brought smiles on the faces of farmers in Rajshahi region including its vast Barind tract as they are getting good profit by cultivating it on their lands.

Locally known as 'Latiraj', arum is a favourite vegetable of many people.

Arum cultivation has brought fortune for many farmers in the region with its bumper production and high profit this season.

The good arum harvest has been attributed to suitable soil, favourable
weather and necessary help from the local agriculture offices.

A section of farmers in the region have started growing arum commercially as it has become a profitable crop and cultivation costs are low.

The farmers are now cultivating arum on commercial basis. Different
varieties of arum are cultivated in the region. Almost all the varieties are grown in the water-logged areas.

Hazrat Ali, Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture Extension said "Arum is an environment-friendly, poison-free and nourishing crop. The agriculture department has been advising farmers on cultivating arum of the high yield variety."

Different varieties of arum are cultivated in the region including white and red colour. Almost all the varieties are grown in the water-logged areas. The cultivation of Latiraj variety is gaining popularity among the farmers as it is about five times more profitable than paddy farming.

As it requires little nursing, the risk of arum cultivation is also little.

Even fertilisers are not necessary for its growth. So, farmers are cultivating arum on a large scale because of high financial return from the crop, he says.

"Latiraj variety of arum is plated early January. The harvest starts in mid-April and the yield continues for eight months till mid-December. A farmer gets 3 to 5 maunds of yield from each decimal of land," said Jahid Hossain, arum grower at Duary village of Paba upazila.

"Over 500 hectares of land for Mukhi Kachu and over 150 hectares for Pani Kachu have been used for cultivation of arum in the district this year. We advise farmers to cultivate Pani Kachu in marshlands where other crops do not grow well. Arum cultivation is increasing here every year, and farmers are

becoming self-reliant," said Ali.

Disappointed over low price of paddy, jute and other crops many farmers of the region became interested in the cultivation of arum and some other vegetables in recent years and its cultivation proved lucrative.

Sazdar Rahman, 47, an arum farmer of Rajabari village of Durgapur, said "I have cultivated arum of the mukhi variety on five bighas of raised land and am expecting bumper production. I planted the arum seed in the third week of January and harvest began in the third week of July."

"The variety grows well on land with good drainage. I am a vegetable farmer,but I have been cultivating arum for some years and getting better profits at lower costs," said Rahman.

He said farmers use only some organic fertiliser during arum cultivation and they do not need to use insecticides. Farmers face few problems in growing this vegetable. Cattle do not eat arum plants and labour is not required to look after it.

Saidur Rahman of Parila under Paba upazila in the district said he
cultivated Taro Arum (Mukhi Kachu or Boi Kachu) and achieved an excellent yield of the crop this season. He said adding that a farmer can get 2-3 maund of Taro Arum from each decimal of land.

Joynal Abedeen of Palpur village in Godagari upazila said, he has cultivated Creeper Arum (Loti Kachu) on two bigha of land this season. He has already

earned Tk 22,000 and is expecting more profit during rest of the season.

"I can buy adequate fresh vegetables including arum from different wholesale markets in Rajshahi city and its outskirts at cheaper cost," said Aminul Islam a trader from Dhaka.

At present 1Kg of Latiraj variety arum sells for Tk18-20 at the local market and the price is expected to double after two to three months. This vegetable is in high demand as it is tastier and more nourishing than all other vegetables.

Dr Khalilur Rahman, Associate Professor of Medicine in Rajshahi Medical College Hospital, described arum as nourishing and tasty vegetable. This vegetable works as a remedy for different diseases, especially diabetics, he claimed.

Fazlur Rahman, Additional Director of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), said, the farmers of the region are expected to grow huge quantity of arum and other vegetables this year as they prefer cultivating vegetables to other crops. Use of modern technology and quick compost has enhanced the production of vegetables significantly, he added.

Expressing contentment a number of farmers said it was difficult for them to afford the expenses of their family by growing paddy only; but cultivation of arum and other vegetables is now giving them adequate profit to ease their financial constraints.