At a time when most of the farmers are turning to cash crops, a farmer from Jashore had great luck growing Chia seeds in Manirampur upazila.
Hafizur Rahman, a local farmer, cultivated Chia on 50 decimals of land this season under the direct supervision of his agriculturalist elder brother Md Mashiur Rahman, a professor at the Bangladesh Agricultural University.
Highly nutritious Chia seed resembles sesame seed and the farming method is quite identical as well. It is mainly cultivated in Canada, Australia, Japan, America, Chilli, Mexico, and New Zealand, among many other developed countries.
Professor Mashiur Rahman collected Chia seed from Canada in 2016 and later led an experimental cultivation.
He said he became interested in Chia farming in Bangladesh after learning about its nutritional quality, and examined local soil and climate to see if it is suitable for Chia cultivation.
“After months of research, I started experimental Chia cultivation and succeeded in 2017,” he said, adding that he encouraged his brother to start cultivating Chia.
Chia plants look like sesame but its nutritional value is higher than many crops and it is very expensive.
Hafizur said Chia seed can be sown in the Bengali month of Karthik and Agrahayan (October-November).
“I’ll harvest the crop within a few days,” he said.
Only 200 grams of seed are enough for each Bigha, he said, adding that Chia plant requires one or two irrigations and requires less pesticide due to less pest attack rate.
Farmers should use a little amount of Urea, TSP and MOP fertilisers 15-20 days before sowing Chia seed in the field, he added.
Each kilogramme of Chia seed costs about Tk 2,700 in Dhaka’s market.
It turns into jelly when the seeds are put in water. This jelly can be consumed with bread, pudding, cake and loaf.
Hirok Kumar Sarkar, the upazila agriculture officer, said they will encourage local farmers to cultivate Chia in the next season.