Several thousand farmers are finally cultivating Aman rice again on about 400 hectares of land, in Kawadighi Haor of Moulvibazar Sadar and Rajnagar upazilas, which otherwise had been under water for about twenty years.
Last year's renovation conducted on Kashempur Pump House -- originally built in 1983 under Manu River Project, commissioned with the objective to utilise vast areas in the haor to produce Boro rice and other crops -- has made the reclamation of the land possible.
Out of 24 thousand hectares of cropland covered under the project, about 14 thousand hectares became permanently waterlogged over the past twenty years, when eight pumps in the pump house started to weaken and failed to disperse water to their full capacity, said officials at Water Development Board (WDB) and Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in Moulvibazar.
Ranendra Shankar Chakrabarty, WDB executive engineer in Moulvibazar, said after the pumps lost efficiency, farmers could not cultivate any crop on around 14 thousand hectares of land within the project area due to permanent stagnation of water.
But after the recent renovation of the old pumps and installation of a few new ones, water pumping capacity of the pump house increased and, as a result, hundreds of farmers in the two upazilas are now planting Aman on about 400 to 450 hectares of land that used to be under water before, he added.
Farmer Muhibur Rahman, from Rasulpur village in Rajnagar upazila, said for the past fifteen years, he had not been able to cultivate any rice on 15 bighas of his land inside the project area due to the water logging.
He is happy this year as the water has receded and he hopes to harvest a substantial amount of Aman rice that he just planted there.
Many other farmers this correspondent spoke with -- including Jidan Mia, from the same village; and Kajal Mia, from Banishree village -- said they also look forward to a better future as they have planted rice on their land after a long time and the weather seems favourable too.
Nazrul Islam, a farmer from Biraimabad village of Rajnagar upazila, said, he was preparing 15 acres of his land for Aman cultivation.
Kazi Lutful Bari, deputy director of DAE in Moulvibazar, said they set a target of cultivating Aman on 1 lakh and 200 hectares of land this year in Kawadighi Haor, where the crop was cultivated on 1 lakh and 150 hectares last year.
He also said thousands of farmers will benefit from the renovation of the pump house this year and a larger area in the haor, which has remained under water for the past twenty years, will gradually come under cultivation in the near future.