Farmers have to pay around 19% of paddy to water suppliers for irrigation

03 August, 2023, 02:15 pm

Last modified: 03 August, 2023, 05:45 pm

Lack of rain this monsoon season has rice farmers worried as the Aman cultivation period is in full swing in the country. Seedbeds have dried up and farmers have been forced to opt for costly irrigation. Photo: TBS


Lack of rain this monsoon season has rice farmers worried as the Aman cultivation period is in full swing in the country. Seedbeds have dried up and farmers have been forced to opt for costly irrigation. Photo: TBS

Insufficient monsoon rain has hit the farmers in northern and southern Bangladesh hard as Aman seedbeds are drying up in many places, forcing many to resort to costly irrigation.

Many farmers, especially in the North, delayed preparing their land for Aman cultivation because of the late arrival of rain.

Aus crop is also in bad shape.

Abu Sayed, a farmer from Dhunat in Bogura, told The Business Standard that farmers are paying around 19% of paddy to water suppliers for irrigation, which will seriously impact their earnings from Aman crop.

Farmers in Naogaon and Lakshmipur also expressed their helplessness, saying they were worried whether they would be able to cultivate Aman paddy this year.

Based on data from multiple districts, farmers in 16 northern districts are cultivating Aman paddy through irrigation to combat the severe heat. But, many are worried due to the added expenses.

Ahsan Habib, a farmer from Naogaon Sadar, sowed Aman paddy in 7 bighas of land in early July without waiting for rain. His expenses – including tillage, irrigation, and labour – amounted to Tk27,000 compared to Tk20,000 in previous years.

According to the Naogaon Department of Agricultural Extension, this year’s Aman cultivation target in the district is 196,300 hectares of land.

Farmer Zillur Rahman of Bogura’s Adamdighi upazila, who is growing Aman on 8 bighas of land, said water suppliers are charging an unprecedented Tk600 to Tk800 per bigha for irrigation this year.

The Bogura Department of Agricultural Extension has also verified the existence of this new expense in Aman cultivation.

In the district, 10,969 tube wells, including 8,062 diesel-powered ones, are used for Aman irrigation. Each machine consumes 5 litres of diesel a day, and they are operated for 90 days during the Aman season. This means, 3,641,400 litres of diesel will be needed for the whole season at a cost of more than Tk39.69 crore.

Sarkar Shafi Uddin Ahmad, additional director of Bogura Zone Department of Agricultural Extension, said Aman cultivation covers 4.5 lakh hectares of land in four districts under the zone and there are 30,000 irrigation machines.

This year, there is no alternative to irrigation in Aman farming, he added.

June-July this year recorded 275mm of rain while it was 758mm in 2019, according to the Bogura Met Office.

According to the Bogura DAE, the cultivation target for this year was set at 1,83,500 hectares in Bogura, 69,650 hectares in Joypurhat, 74,700 hectares in Sirajganj, and 55,350 hectares in Pabna.

Over 6,14,000 hectares of land are being used for Aman cultivation in Rangpur division this year. Overall, paddy cultivation has been increasing in the last five years.

M Aftab Hossain, additional director of Rangpur Division DAE, said farmers are being recommended to cultivate Aman through irrigation. The division has approximately 50,000 irrigation machines operational, half of which are diesel-powered.

If the diesel-powered irrigation machines are used throughout the season, it is estimated that the cost will be at least Tk122 crore.

Aman seedbeds are drying up due to the lack of rain in the south-east region also.

Badsha Mia from Laksmipur’s Kamalnagar upazila sowed 60kg of BRRI-52 paddy seeds on 60 decimal land. The seedlings are thriving, but the lack of rain is causing damage, destroying approximately 25% of them.

Md Zakir Hossain, deputy director of the Lakshmipur DAE, said, “After monitoring the situation for a few more days, we will inform the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation about using the irrigation machines.”

He said the DAE has already started advising farmers on what to do in drought.

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