Cotton Cultivation in Non-traditional areas of Bangladesh
Jun 16, 2019

Network coordination Network-MedMiddleEast

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Md. Farid Uddin

Executive Director

Cotton Development Board, Khamarbari, Dhaka Bangladesh


Bangladesh is the 2nd apparel producer of the world after China. The contribution of GDP and employment is the highest by Textile and Clothing sector of Bangladesh. There are 5000 RMG, 407 spinning mill, 396 knitwear garments and other weaving mills in Bangladesh. Around 5 million people are working in this sector, 80% of which is rural woman. Bangladesh is the 2nd  cotton importer and 5th  cotton consumer of the world. The country invests Twenty thousand crore taka expending foreign exchange to import this big quantity of raw cotton from different countries like India, Uzbekistan, USA, other CIS, and many African countries.

Bangladesh is a highly populated country and our Government is highly attentive to grow food crops to feed those populations. There is 8.5 million ha of cultivated land for growing different crops  in Bangladesh. Cotton is an important  cash  crop for the farmers of our country after jute. As cotton is a long duration it requires six months up to harvesting. Within this time farmers of our country can grow two short duration crops. So, cotton is highly competitive with short duration crops like vegetables, maize, banana etc. So it was difficult to increase the cotton production in the country though our raw cotton requirement is very high.

Through our research we have identified some of the areas where food crops are not profitable. These lands could be utilized for producing cotton. As cotton is a drought tolerant crop so the northern area i.e. drought prone areas of Bangladesh where rice and other crops are not so profitable for the farmers but cotton is profitable for those farmers as seed cotton yield is more than 3 tons per ha. There  are 200,000 ha of drought prone land in the northern part of Bangladesh. Out of that cotton could be grown under 100,000 ha.

As you know cotton is a salinity tolerant crop, we have an area of 0.1 million ha of saline area in the southern part of the country where other crops cannot grow well after Transplanted Aman of rice which will be irrigated cotton. Vast land remains fallow, out of that 50,000 ha of land are possible to take under cotton. But yield of cotton is good and economically profitable for the farmers. But those area will under cotton during December-April which will summer and short duration variety like India. There is a big hilly area in Bangladesh which covers 10% of our country. In those hilly area is also drought which suitable for growing cotton. Earlier it was under jhum cultivation (mixed  cropping) where cotton is one of the item of jhum. Jhum provided very  low yield of different crops including cotton. We have developed a technology called rice -cotton intercropping by conducting trial for several years instead of jhum which is providing three times more income than traditional jhum cultivation. Through adaptive trial it has been shown that G. hirsutum is performing much better than that of G. arboreum. At least 50,000 ha could be possible under cotton cultivation.

Char (river basin) is also one of the non-traditional areas of Bangladesh where main crops are growing well. Other food crops are not growing well in the char area but hybrid and local variety of cotton produces 3 tons per ha of seed cotton as cotton is deep rooted crop. There is a area 20,000 ha where cotton could be grown successfully as it is a deep rooted. Hybrid is also performing better in those hilly areas.

Tobacco cultivation has negative impact on soil health which kills the soil micro organism and it is also create health hazard for the farmers but farmers grow tobacco as they get some special incentives from the tobacco company but they want to replace tobacco if they get the suitable crop which is profitable for them. Cotton is one of the important alternative options for tobacco replacement. There are 70 thousand ha of land in different area which is under tobacco cultivation and gradually we can replace this tobacco area under cotton cultivation. The replacement of tobacco has already started in different areas in upland areas as well as in three hill districts. Based on the above information it is revealed that 200,000 ha of land from non- traditional (low yield of other crops) areas could be taken under cotton cultivation. We have been conducting Research and Development for increasing cotton production in the non- traditional areas of Bangladesh without hampering the food production. By using these non-traditional areas 800,000-10,000 bales of cotton could be grown in Bangladesh which can fulfill 20-25% of our requirement as well as by producing cotton seed oil, Bangladesh can save exchange.

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