Dhaka, Bangladesh
Farmers switching to cereals from paddy in Barind

Farmers switching to cereals from paddy in Barind

RAJSHAHI, Feb 23: Farmers are switching from cultivation of paddy to less irrigation-dependent cereals in the wake of adverse impact of climate change in the Barind tract, reports BSS. According to the agriculture officials and scientists, farmers have reduced the cultivation of irrigation-dependent crop especially Irri-Boro paddy in the Barind tract. On the other hand, farming of various crops like wheat, maize, potato, mustard and other fruits and vegetables is gradually increasing in the area comprising Rajshahi, Chapainawabgonj and Naogaon districts. These crops have occupied more than 27,097 hectares of lands only in Tanore and Godagari Upazila during the current season, said Habibur Rahman Khan, Executive Engineer of Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA). After harvesting the water-saving crops the farmers will cultivate Aush paddy on the lands. Engineer Khan said Aush paddy needs small irrigation as rainfall meets up lion portion of the irrigation demands. "In many occasions, we are motivating the farmers to promote various cereal crops instead of only paddy in the area, said Engineer Habib Khan. Professor Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan of Department of Geology and Mining in Rajshahi University said around 3,200 to 3,500 litres of water for irrigation is needed to grow one kilogramme of paddy. Dr Ilias Hossain, principal scientific officer of Regional Wheat Research Station, said irrigation has been reduced to a greater extent in Barind resulting in a decline in Irri-boro farming. Hafizur Rahman, a farmer of Mushribhuja village under Volahat Upazila, said he is very happy over cultivating various less-water consuming crops like wheat, mustard, potato and lentil. "I had to face many troubles to manage irrigation water for boro cultivation," he added. But, the cultivation of water-saving crops is suitable for farmers of the area. Ishrafil Haque, a volunteer of Nezampur village under Nachole Upazila, said number of farmers and acreage of less-water consuming crops are increasing in the area every year. "We are getting supports of irrigation, seed and fertilizer from Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) Project for cultivation of the crops," said Zenuara Khatun, a farmer of Gobratala village in Chapainawabgonj Sadar Upazila. On behalf of the project, more than 3,200 farmers were given the supports. They cultivated water-saving crops on more than 300 hectares of lands this season. Around 994 volunteers disseminate and share knowledge among farmers on how to cultivate more less-irrigated crops through water resource management. The IWRM project is being implemented in 35 UPs and four pourasavhas in Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj districts since 2015 by DASCOH Foundation and Swiss Red Cross with financial support from Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation- SDC. BMDA Chairman Dr Akram Hossain Chowdhury said instead of depending on only Irri-Boro farming, importance should be given to the promotion of less-irrigation consuming cereal crops in Barind area to lessen the gradually mounting pressure on underground water.

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