Crop prospects of additional 24.48 lakh tonnes in Rajshahi Barind per year
RAJSHAHI, Feb 5 (BSS)- Crop prospects seem to be bright with a prospective production of an additional 24.48 lakh tonnes of food grains and other cereal cash crops by ensuring irrigation facilities in the vast Barind tract.
According to the sources concerned, around 3.59 lakh hectares of land remain fallow every year due to lack of irrigation facilities in 25 upazilas of Rajshahi, Naogaon and Chapainawabgonj districts.
There are around 5.83 lakh hectares of cultivable lands, of which around 2.24 lakh hectares have so far been brought under irrigation facilities with the help of shallow and deep tubewells, low lift pumps and other modes of irrigation facilities.
They opined that over 24.48 lakh tonnes of additional food- grains valued at around Taka 4406.40 crore could be produced every year if the total cultivable lands are brought under irrigation facilities.
Officials of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) said around over 12,500 deep tubewells and other irrigation pumps are engaged in irrigation purposes in the region with the initiatives of different government organizations and private sector ones at the moment.
Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA), which has been working as the pioneer irrigation providing public organization in the region, has been spending huge money for boosting crop production through development of irrigation management in its command area.
The main objective of the authority was to convert the huge single-cropping areas into three-cropping but significant change has not been attained in this regard as more huge other areas remain as single cropping.
“Crop production could be boosted up in the region if the lands are converted into double-cropping through ensuring irrigation facilities,” said BMDA Executive Director Abdul Mannan adding that the outlook depends on some effective planning and implementation measures by the policy planners.
On the other hand, Additional Director of DAE Younus Ali said the modern irrigation management system could not be expanded as per the expectation.
Besides, the existing irrigation system is not being utilized properly due to lack of necessary drainage and pipeline facilities, obscuring the prospects of additional crop yield.
Meanwhile, the yearly by- rotation cropping pattern of Boro- Aus- Aman in the Barind lands is gradually being changed as the paddy cultivation fields are being squeezed due to gradually expansion of horticulture including mango orchard.
Apart from this, scanty rainfall and excessive extraction of groundwater has created concern among the Barind people and others about irrigation to the conventional Boro farming.
The number of fruit gardens has been rising on the crop- farming fields every year and the absentee landowners are seen accomplishing the works with the hope of getting more money within a short time.
Different government organizations including Fruit Research Institute, Department of Forestry and Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) coupled with huge other private sector nurseries are producing hybrid varieties of fruit saplings and supplying those to the farmers aiming at expansion of garden.
Around 2,500 small and large-scale fruit orchards with around 10 lakh trees were created only in the greater Rajshahi districts over the last couple of years and most of those are in the cultivable lands.
Deputy Director of DAE, Rajshahi Nurul Amin told BSS that the region’s soil condition, topography and weather are very suitable for mango farming, making the landowners more interested in the fruit gardening.
Terming the trend as unfortunate in terms of foodgrain Production, BMDA Executive Director Abdul Mannan said every conscious circle is apprehended over the situation.
“We are providing irrigation facilities for crop farming after spending crores of Taka, but the lands are being converted into fruit gardens through utilizing the irrigation water,” Abdul Mannan lamented.
Basically, he said, “We can’t debar the interested farmers from gardening”. The unusual process could be prevented by formulating need-based laws and regulations, he added.
Mannan, however, said there are many more lands in the Barind area where the irrigation facilities could not be expanded as yet and those lands might be used for fruit gardening.
Meanwhile, he also revealed that there are huge small rivers, canals and beels in the region which converted into green paddy fields in every boro season.
If the huge wetlands could be water-reservoir through proper excavation and re- excavation, the huge barren lands could be brought under paddy fields using the conserved water, by which, Abdul Mannan opined that the dependence on groundwater could be lessened.