A ray of hope for five monga-prone dists | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, October 20, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, October 20, 2009

BRRI Dhan-33, BINA Dhan-7

A ray of hope for five monga-prone dists

Farmers harvesting advanced variety BRRI Dhan-33 in a field in Nilphamari district. Introduction of the HYV rice bears bright prospect of poverty alleviation in the monga-prone area.Photo: STAR

Marginal farmers and farm workers of five northern districts are now not frightened of monga-- a near famine situation with wholesale unemployment-- during September-November as they remain busy with harvesting the newly developed early harvestable rice varieties this time.
Sources said harvest of new rice varieties of BRRI Dhan-33 and BINA Dhan-7 has already begun now during the peak monga period while harvest of aman paddy will start after two months.
On completion of aman paddy plantation in mid September, farm workers of five monga-prone northern districts of Rangpur, Kurigram, Nilphamari, Lalmonirhat and Gaibandha usually sit idle as they do not have any job during mid September to mid November (Bengali Ashwin and Kartik months). Monga also forces a large number of local farm workers to leave for other districts in search of employment.
Marginal farmers also do not have stock of paddy for family consumption, forcing them to starve or to sell land for buying food.
Sources at Rangpur regional office of the Agriculture Extension Department (AED) said aman was cultivated on six lakh hectares of land in five northern districts this year while newly developed early varieties of BRRI Dhan-33 and BINA Dhan-7, meant for combating monga, were cultivated on 44,000 hectares of land.
Farmers said they are now inclined to cultivate two new varieties of paddy as it can be harvested during crisis period, around two months before aman harvest. The new rice varieties can be planted in early Ashar (mid June). It takes only 110-115 days to ripe, producing an average yield of 2.4-2.5 metric tonnes per hectare of land.
After harvesting the new varieties, farmers can cultivate potato and afterwards boro paddy timely. It is usually late to cultivate potato and boro after harvest of aman, AED sources said.
While visiting Austomir Char and Datbhanga villages in Kurigram, Guddimari and Bhotmari villages in Lalmonirhat and Putimari and Gayabari villages in Nilphamari, farmers were seen busy with harvesting the new varieties of paddy. Both marginal and rich farmers hired huge number of farm workers for cutting, carrying and thrashing paddy. Once quiet and lifeless monga-prone villages are now buzzing with agricultural activities.
Tayeb Ali, a marginal farmer of Monthona village in Nilphamari, told this correspondent that he had harvested BINA Dhan-2 from his two bighas or 60 decimals of land and got 32 maunds of paddy. “Its production is a little bit less than usual variety of aman. But I'm happy, as I have got it in a very critical period," he added.
Abul Kashem, another farmer of Parulia village in Lalmonirhat, cultivated BRRI Dhan-33 and BINA Dhan-7 on his 10 bighas of land. He is now getting higher prices, as supply of paddy is generally low in the market. “I can cultivate potato and then 'boro' paddy in proper time”, he added.
Farm workers Ramzan Ali, Anil Chandra, Bishadu, Keramat and Naimuddin of Nohali village in Rangpur said that monga was a past event to them. They are now working in paddy fields and earn Tk 100-140 per day. It was not possible only a couple of years ago, they said.
The deputy director of AED in Nilphamari, Yunus Ali, told this correspondent that people have accepted the new varieties of paddy as they found its utility against monga. “Within a few years, monga would be a part of history as the cultivation pattern is changing rapidly,” he added.

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