Paddy and vegetables are being cultivated after more than two decades on 4,500 hectares of what used to be saline land in Rampal and Morrelganj upazilas and adjacent areas under the district.
Due to high salinity, around 17,000 farmers could not grow any crop on those lands.
“After Water Development Board built an embankment and sluice gates beside the rivers Panguchi, Baleshwar and some parts of the Passur, saline water cannot enter our lands,” said Nimai Das of Morrelganj upazila.
The fields are full of pumpkin, radish and pepper in Kharuikhali village under Panchakaron union of Morrelganj upazila. Many fields are covered with Boro paddy.
“The embankment along the nearby rivers has stopped entry of saline water. The local agriculture extension office supplies us Boro seeds and we are getting a large quantity of Boro paddy now. Our lands have become fertile again,” said Bipul Kumar Saha, son of Gouranga Saha of Sagarkathi
“Due to salinity, paddy could not be grown for 20 to 25 years. Along with paddy, we have been cultivating vegetables for two years now. People have not left a single piece of land unused beside their homesteads and in the fields because cultivation was stopped for many years,” he added.
Some people set up shrimp farms on the saline lands during that time, but could not continue due to attack by diseases.
“Because of various diseases, we could not do shrimp farming so we were hard up. Paddy was not grown then and marginal farmers were in a very miserable condition. They are now able to grow the crops on their own lands and save some money by the end of the year,” said Giasuddin of Doiboggohati.
“I cultivated early variety of tomatoes in my field and got bumper yield this year,” said Nirmal Chandra Das, a teacher cum farmer of Biskhali village.
“Farmers have been cultivating paddy and other crops for three years,” said Morrelganj Upazila Agriculture Officer Anupam Roy.
“We are making them interested in cultivating different crops with the support of new technology. In the last three years, farmers cultivated 2,000 hectares of land in the Boro season. Besides, seasonal vegetable cultivation is also increasing,” he added.
“The most saline areas in Morrelganj upazila are Teligati, Putikhali, Panchakaron, Daiboggohati and Zuidhara unions. Seven thousand farmers started paddy cultivation recently on about 2,000 hectares in those areas. Besides, 10,000 peasants have started farming after a long time on around 2,500 hectares in Rampal upazila,” said Bagerhat Department of Agriculture Extension Deputy Director Aftab Uddin.
“Farmers have started cultivating paddy and different kinds of vegetables on 4,500 hectares of land in Rampal and Morrelganj upazilas and adjacent areas as the saline water does not enter those places. The area of cultivation is increasing day by day,” he added.