Panchagarh Deputy Commissioner MD Tofazzal Hossain inaugurates reaping of a drought tolerant early variety rice at a programme organised by RDRS Bangladesh and Anubhab at Sarkarpara in Benghari Banagram union of Boda upazila under Panchagarh district yesterday.Photo: STAR
Farmers in the north can now pin their hopes on the drought tolerant variety of rice.
At least 350 farmers have seen success in cultivation of the variety under a three-year pilot project jointly conducted by Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) and RDRS Bangladesh during the aman season in eight northern districts.
Expressing his satisfaction, Abdul Majid, a farmer of Nilkantha under Rangpur Sadar upazila, said his land turned dry in August and September but the hot spell and drought did not affect his aman paddy.
"I cultivated BRRI Dhan 56. I was surprised to see the plants alive in the drought. I am also happy with its yield”, he said.
Romesh Chandra, another farmer, who cultivated this variety of rice echoed the same saying, "As it is a short term variety, I can easily cultivate another crop before I go for boro cultivation."
Additional Director of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) of Rangpur, Dr Kalidas Deb Nath, said "We are happy to see success in cultivation of this drought tolerant variety in Rangpur where water is becoming scarce with the changes in climate".
The farmers in drought-prone regions, mainly Rajshahi and some parts of Rangpur division can now expect a more bountiful rice harvest with the release of two drought tolerant varieties of rice named BRRI Dhan 56 and BRRI Dhan 57, he added.
Addressing a meeting in observance of field day at Nilkantha under Rangpur Sadar upazila on Friday Dr Kalidas said “Climate change is likely to increase the extreme weather events such as drought in Rajshahi and some parts of Rangpur region. Therefore, farmers had to look for alternative irrigation during aman season. But BRRI Dhan 56 and BRRI Dhan 57 are sure to give a relief to the farmers,”
Among others present on the occasion included head of agriculture wing of RDRS Bangladesh Dr MG Neogy and country manager of STRASA programme Dr Abdul Bari. RDRS and STRASA with the financial assistance of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation carried out the pilot project for three years in the northern districts.
Dr Abdul Bari said, "IRRI has developed these two varieties of rice for cultivation in the drought prone areas in Asia. Both the varieties were introduced in the drought prone regions in India and Nepal earlier. IRRI's success in the two countries has encouraged Bangladesh to cultivate those in about one lakh hectares during aman season".
Unlike most rain-dependent rice varieties in Bangladesh, planted in the aman monsoon season from July to November, BRRI Dhan 56 and BRRI Dhan 57 remain healthy in drought even towards the end of the season, because they take less time to mature than other popular local varieties, said Dr MG Neogy.
Like BRRI Dhan 33 and BINA-7 these two are short term varieties. These can be harvested in October during lean season in northern region. "So these can help remove joblessness (monga) in the north," Neogy added.