Farmers at work at a paddy field in Mirpur of Kushtia district. The area was brought under cultivation recently due to introduction of a 'new season' by GK Irrigation Project.Photo: STAR
Farmers in four southwestern districts will now be able to cultivate their land three times a year as Ganges-Kobadak (G-K) Irrigation Project will ensure water supply.
The water supply for the new season, known as Kharif-3 from December to March, has already started.
According to sources, the authorities had been supplying water for two other seasons -- Kharif-I (March to June) and Kharif-II (mid-July to November) from the beginning of the project in 1961.
With the new initiative, about 3 lakh tonnes more rice are expected to be produced in about 1.16 lakh hectares under the project area.
Talking to the correspondent, a number of farmers in the area said they are now happy as the move would open up the opportunity to cultivate their lands three times a year.
"I hope to produce about 30 maunds more paddy by cultivating my two bighas of land in the new season," said Abu Bakkar, a farmer in Kushtia.
"With the additional rice, I will be able to run my family at a little ease."
Officials at the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) here hope that the new move would add a new dimension to paddy production in the southeastern districts of Kushtia, Jhenidah, Magura and Chuadanga.
"Farmers in the districts have been cultivating tobacco instead of paddy due to lack of sufficient water supply during the season," said Lutfor Rahman, deputy director at the DAE regional office in Kushtia.
"Now they will move toward paddy cultivation," he said expressing hope.
More than 22,000 hectares of land undergo tobacco cultivation in Kushtia, Meherpur and Chuadanga during the December to March season.
"We hope that the farmers in the region will now give up harmful tobacco cultivation as they will get the water needed for rice production during the season," said Obaidur Rahman, director of the G-K project.
During a recent visit, this correspondent found that the farmers in the project area have already opted for paddy cultivation in the new season.
The lands under the project area are the main sources of rice production in the districts, agri officials said.
Sources in the G-K project said, 15 pumps have been installed to lift water from River Padma and bring it to the fields through a channel.
The possibility of uninterrupted supply of water, however, depends on the water flow in the river, they said.
It also depends on discharge of water by India in the upstream at Farakka, they pointed out.
"We need to dredge up to 1.86 lakh cubic metres of silts from 850-metre stretch of canal near the Hardinge Bridge a year," said Md Abdus Sattar, executive engineer at the G-K Project.
The project failed to ensure smooth supply of water several times in the past due to drastic fall in water level of Padma.
It could not supply water to the lands under the project area from the year 1992 to 1996, officials said.
The project became operational again after a water sharing treaty between Bangladesh and India in 1996.
However, the quantity of water often goes down as India withdraws Ganges water at Farakka, said an official of Water Development Board in Kushtia.