Instead of the long-lasting conventional method the potato farmers have started using mechanized harvester as it saves cost and reduces labor requirement during the ongoing peak harvesting season for the last couple of years in the region.
According to the sources concerned, the potato-harvester driven by power tiller has been developed in Regional Wheat Research Centre (RWRC) in Rajshahi recently.
Golam Rasul, a potato farmer of Dayengrhat village under Paba upazila of the district, said potato harvester meets up the labour shortage through speeding up the harvesting process. It can harvest potato from around 10-12 bighas of land in average a day depending upon the operator’s skill.
He said the machine requires labour of three persons instead of the conventional eight persons per bigha of land and the harvesting cost is saved by at least 60 percent.
Babar Ali of Shayampur village told BSS that there is a huge labour shortage in potato growing areas during peak harvesting period. Manual potato harvesting is a slow, time consuming and costly operation.
Potato growers always face risk of bad weather especially during harvesting time. Sometime unpredictable rain causes huge damage. So, potato harvester can cover many areas within limited time and escape bad weather, uncertainty and labour dependency.
Farmers have already started using this harvester in their own field in Rajshahi area. They can be benefited as it lowers the production cost as well as labour requirement.
Agriculture Engineer Dr Israil Hossain, Chief Scientific Officer of RWRC, Rajshahi, told BSS that the harvester is a lighter weight machine and easily enters into the small farmers’ fields and a single person can drive the machine.
He said the fabricating cost is around Taka 35,000 and there is no need of specialized training for driving the machine.
Dr Hossain said the farmers have started using this harvester in their own field during the current harvesting season and the farmers are being benefited in curtailing their production cost as well as labour requirement.
Many of the farmers told BSS that the production is being adjudged as higher than that of the previous season by dint of suitable climatic condition.
The Department of Agriculture Extension has set a target of harvesting potato from 35,058 hectares of land in the district.
At present, the growers are harvesting around 100 bags of potato (each bag contains 90 kg) from per bigha of land and there is no apprehension of incurring loss.