Bangladesh is the 7th largest producer of potato. The average yield of potato is 19.06-20.82 tones/ha (2011 -2020) and annual production (local and high yield varieties) is 96.05 Lac Tones (2019-2020) (Source: BBS). In spite of having great potential and scope, one of the key challenges for potato production in Bangladesh is our reliance on costly and time-consuming manual labor. Moreover, there is labor shortage during peak seasons. As a result, cost of production increases. Farm mechanization can solve these issues and improve crop quality. Recently, ACI Motors has brought potato planter and potato harvester to speed up the planting and harvesting. As per our preliminary field-test results, the planter can reduce planting costs by 76%. Similarly, the harvester reduces cost by 75%. Apart from cost, it also saves time by 85-90% compared to manual labor. In terms of fuel economy, the average fuel consumption for potato planter and harvester are 8.72 and 8.33 Liters/acre respectively. Besides, coverage area for potato harvester and planter are 0.45 and 0.25 acre/h, respectively. On the other hand, manual planter coverage area is 0.06 acre/h only. These machines can be used effectively in both small and large scale farms while ensuring line-row alignments. Furthermore, timely plantation and harvesting of potato enables our farmers to start preparing for their next crop. Young people can also become agri-entrepreneurs by using or servicing these machines as service providers. ACI Motors is continuing the field trials and testing as part of our R & D for these machines.

Farm mechanization can play a key role in increasing productivity, income, and the efficiency of agricultural practices. However, most of our farmers had adopted only power tiller and shallow tube-well. Recent studies suggested that only about 13% of the respondents were high adopters. Experience, education, spouse’s education, training and relatively larger farm sizes have played a significant role in such adoptions (Moniruzzaman et al., 2021). Therefore, we should plan further by considering policy formulation, subsidy support and increased investment in extension facilities such as training to sustain and increase the adoption of new technology for potato farming.

Dr. F H Ansarey
ACI Agribusinesses Division

Reference: Moniruzzaman, Rahman M. S., Sujan M. H. K. (2021). Determinants of Small-Scale Mechanization for Potato Farming: A Case from Bangladesh. Journal of Nepal Agricultural Research Council, 7: 75-82.