Fed up with underwhelming yields of traditional breeds, a growing number of farmers are switching to hybrid rice cultivation to bag higher outputs during the aus and aman seasons.
The absence of well-accepted HYV seeds such as BRRI Dhan-28 and BRRI-29 for plantation during the two seasons accounts for the shift, which has been more pronounced in recent years, Mohammed Masum, chairman of Supreme Seed Company, said.
Hybrids are taking off in a big way in the upland areas of Jessore, Chuadanga, Meherpur, Kushtia and some areas of the country’s northwest, where farmers are switching to it after growing vegetables, tobacco and other crops.
Growers usually plant hybrids in April-June and harvest in September-October period, at least a month ahead of the rain-fed aman crops, according to seed firms.
“The scope to harvest earlier than traditional varieties provides farmers the opportunity to grow another crop,” he said, adding that farmers typically switch to maize, wheat, potato and other winter crops after harvesting hybrids.
Sudhir Chandra Nath, head of BRAC’s agriculture and food security programme, said the demand for hybrid seeds is rising among farmers despite there being no official adaptability trials.
“I’d say the farmers themselves are carrying out the field trials. The success of one encourages others to follow,” he said, adding that trials by farmers are more accurate.
BRAC sold 100 tonnes of hybrids seeds after this year’s boro season, according to Nath.
FH Ansarey, executive director of agribusiness at ACI, said the rebound in prices of rice this year has propelled the demand for hybrid this year.
ACI has sold 180 tonnes of seeds ahead of aus and aman season, Shafiqul Aktar, business manager of ACI Seed, said.
“Hybrids provide us with more benefits. We can harvest early and grow another crop like maize. It enables us to earn more,” said Mohammad Kashed, a farmer at Chuadanga.
“Besides, we do not have to irrigate fields regularly during the rainy season. The requirement of fertiliser also remains lower than boro.”