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Drought, high input cost take toll on farmers

  • ANM Mohibub Uz Zaman
  • 27 August, 2022 12:00 AM
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Drought, high input cost take toll on farmers
Cracks develop in paddy fields in Jashopara of Sadar upazila of Bogura in the peak season for lack of water amid poor rains. The photo was taken recently. – SUN PHOTO

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Farmers have been facing difficulties in producing Aman paddy due to low rainfall and increasing temperature during the monsoon this year.   

This year, the country faced the lowest rainfall and hottest temperatures in four decades, forcing the farmers to depend more on irrigation to cultivate the staple crop.

Farmers are also struggling due to the high costs of agricultural inputs including ploughs, transportation, labour, seeds and fertilisers.

Experts feared that food production may drop this year as the drought is already affecting paddy farming in the rainy season.

Aman is the country’s second-largest staple crop, purely a tropical monsoon rain-dependent crop. Due to less or no irrigation cost, good production and lucrative price, farmers usually choose this season to cultivate paddy.

But the scenario has changed this year as the country witnessed 57.6 per cent lower rainfall in July, the pick month of the monsoon and also the pick cultivating season of Aman. 

The country also witnessed lower rainfall in August this year. From August 15 to 21, Dhaka witnessed 96 per cent less rainfall, Tangail 96 per cent, Madaripur 76 per cent, Mymensingh 88 per cent, Sylhet 75 per cent, Bogura 87 per cent, Rangpur 77 per cent, Dinajpur 53 per cent, Khulna 41 per cent and Barishal witnessed 81 per cent less rainfall, according to Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD).

The maximum temperature in July this year was 2.6 per cent warmer than the average normal temperature, affecting agricultural activities and livelihoods of the poor depending on outdoor work, it said.

Professor ASM Golam Hafiz, a renowned farm economist, told the Daily Sun that farmers cultivate Aman paddy with a less input cost as it is a rain feed crop.

But prolonged drought caused by low rainfall since July this year has affected Aman cultivation along with high input costs.

He said the rising input cost will have to be factored into crop production costs.

Farmers readied their seedbeds in hopes of cultivating Aman paddy during the monsoon but the scorching heat wave prevailed throughout August with little to no rain has affected the cultivation of Aman this year.

Many farmers started planting the seedlings after irrigating their fields with pumps, but frequent load-shedding and higher irrigation costs made it harder.

Agriculture Secretary Sayedul Islam said cultivation of Aman paddy on around 47 lakh hectares of land out of 59 lakh hectares has been completed, which is 70 per cent of the total Aman acreage.

“Cultivation of Aman paddy will be completed 100 per cent by this month and we have taken different initiatives so that farmers can get uninterrupted irrigation water in the next 30 days,” he said.

A sharp increase in diesel price has also made irrigation costlier, ploughs and transportation across the country.