The hilly ecosystem consists of three districts in Bangladesh, namely Rangamati, Khagrachari, and Bandarban. For jhum cultivation, farmers preferred some traditional (Gelong and Binnidhan) as well as modern varieties (BRRI dhan48 and BRRI dhan55) due to ensuring higher yield and good taste. In the valley land of a hilly ecosystem, during T. Aus season, BRRI dhan48 and local varieties Binnidhan and Gelong were the most preferred varieties due to their good taste to eat and higher yield than other local rice varieties. Moreover, in the T. Aman season, the farmers most preferred varieties were BRRI dhan49, Paijam, and BR11 in the valley land due to their drought-tolerant capacity, higher yield, shorter growth duration, good taste, and medium slender grain size. In the Boro season, farmers preferred the varieties BRRI dhan28, BRRI dhan58, and hybrid varieties Hira, ACI, and SL-8H due to their higher yield, medium good taste to hilly people and high market demand in the local area. On the other hand hybrid rice production is popular on this area due to seed availability in the market, higher yield than other variety and production cost is not significantly different from other varieties. Overall, the hybrid and modern rice area is increasing day by day due to its higher yield potential, less disease and pest infestation, and higher market demand for local people in the hilly areas of Bangladesh. So product profile will play a significant role to fill the future demand in hilly ecosystems of Bangladesh.
Key words: Hilly ecosystem, preferences, variety, product profile.
The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) comprising 70% of the hilly areas of Bangladesh and covers 13,184 km2 (10% of total country area), of which 90% are sloping lands (Hossain et al., 2017a). More than 35 crop species are cultivated annually in hilly areas (Ahammad and Stacey, 2016). The area is mild to very steep ranging from 15% to over 70% slope, often breaking or ending in cliffs (SRDI, 2018). Rice is the major crop component of jhum field and average yield 1.15 t ha-1, though rice grown as main crop banana provides the maximum yield of 108 t ha-1 (Jamaluddin et al., 2010). Moreover, jhum cultivation is one of the traditional practices in the hilly areas of Bangladesh. Jhum cultivation is very popular to tribal hill communities that govern hill agriculture. In this system land is cleared by controlled fire and then a natural fallow phase is employed long enough to be dominated by woody vegetation (Bhagawatiet al., 2015). Due to developing of modern rice varieties and new technologies, the hilly people shifting their agriculture for earning more profit. Crop productivity in jhum has declined due to soil erosion and associated reduction in essential soil nutrients (Karim and Mansor, 2011). Recently, many Asian countries are replacing the system with permanent agriculture due to increase population which is created pressure on land (BRRI, 2020). Even though Jhum has considerably declined in recent years but still a dominant land-use system in the hilly terrain and has been practiced by local indigenous groups of CHT for centuries (Khisa and Mohiuddin, 2015). It has been estimated that about 26,000 households practice shifting cultivation (jhum) every year, and nearly 143,000 people depend on jhum for livelihood (Shoaib, 2000). Despite declining productivity, farmers follow jhuming because they believe it is the basis of hill people’s cultural identity (Ahmed, 2002). Generally, the average jhum cycle ranges from 12 to 15 years, which allows sufficient vegetation during the interval (Hossain, 2011). But due to the scarcity of land, the cycle has shortened to 2-3 years, with serious consequences for soil quality (Swapan et al., 2008). To maximize the production of jhum, the quality seed for jhum crops has to be available. Bangladesh Rice Research Institute