Despite the government’s priority programme to make the best use of every inch of available cultivable land, more than 15 thousand hectares of arable land in Chattogram remain uncultivated.

According to agriculture officials, the reasons for this include a lack of irrigation and other problems over many years.

Jashim Uddin, a farmer of the Hathazari upazila, said, “I have two acres of arable land. However, due to the lack of water, I could not plant paddy in about an acre of the land.”

“I planted paddy in the remaining one acre with pump irrigation, but half of my crops died for the same reason,” he added.

According to the data of the Chattogram Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), the total cultivable land in the district is 2 lakh 28 thousand 966 hectares. Of this, farmers cultivate 2 lakh 14 thousand hectares of land.

According to the data of the Chattogram Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), the total cultivable land in the district is 2 lakh 28 thousand 966 hectares. Of this, farmers cultivate 2 lakh 14 thousand hectares of land.

Md Aktaruzzaman, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Chattogram, told The Daily Star that due to a lack of agricultural inputs, irrigation, financial options, and technical and agricultural knowledge, the lands stay fallow.

About a lakh tonnes of food grains could be produced annually if the land is brought under cultivation, he added.

“We are encouraging farmers to bring cultivable fallow lands under cultivation. But the agriculture department cannot force the farmers by enforcing the law,” said Abu Salek, agriculture officer of Banshkhali Upazilla.

Farmers said agricultural machinery, irrigation, pesticides and labour costs have seen a massive increase.

Moreover, most farmers have moved to the cities in search of livelihood. There is also a lack of interest in agriculture among the educated younger generations.

“Last year, I cultivated paddy on 2 acres of land but did not make any profit. On the contrary, I counted a loss of Tk 36 thousand,” said Jaynal Abedin, a farmer from Fatikchhari upazila.

“Due to the increase in the cost of labour, seeds, fertilisers and other accessories, I did not cultivate paddy this year. Two acres of my land are lying fallow now,” he added.

Kalpana Rahman, agriculture officer of Patiya upazila, said, “600 hectares of land remain permanently uncultivated in the upazila due to flooding, lack of irrigation and being unfit for cultivation.”

“We have taken the initiative of motivating the farmers through field assembly, and distribution of free fertilisers and seeds to bring the land under cultivation. Hopefully, the uncultivated land will come under cultivation next year,” she added.



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