Vast areas of croplands in the district are still empty in the ongoing peak Aman cultivation season as farmers are facing difficulties to prepare the land due to insufficient rain in the monsoon.
“The rainy season comprising Bangla months of Ashar and Sraban (mid June-mid August) is the peak time for Aman transplantation to get maximum yield. If it is delayed, production will decrease,” said Sirajul Islam, additional deputy director of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Nilphamari.
Farmers prefer to cultivate Aman with rainwater as it saves irrigation cost, he added.
“There was only 225 mm rainfall in this month till July 23, which is much lower than average 350mm-400 mm rainfall in this period. Surprisingly, there was no rainfall in nine days from July 1- July 23,” said Sanarul Islam, sub assistant agriculture officer of DAE in Nilphamari.
Due to inadequate rain, farmers could complete Aman cultivation on only 38.2 thousand hectares of land consisting only 34% of the DAE's target of 1.13 lakh hectares, he said.
Visiting different villages in the district, it was found that seedlings in many seedbeds have become too old as they attained 45 to 50 days.
The situation has arisen as farmers could not transplant them in due time for want of water although they must be transplanted within 18-28 days.
Many big and solvent farmers are preparing their land with underground water extracted by power-run shallow or deep pumps to transplant the paddy but marginal farmers and sharecroppers cannot afford it.
“I cultivated my five-bigha land in the second week of this month with underground water drawn by my shallow pump as rain is uncertain,” said Abed Ali, a farmer of Dharmapal village in Jaldhaka upazila.
Marginal farmers Ratan Pasha of Chawra Borogasa village in Sadar upazila and Ramjan Ali of Gayabari village in Dimla said they could not afford arrange irrigation with power pump as it needs additional Tk 1,000-Tk 1,500 per bigha.
Fazal Kadir, a farmer of Pushna village in Kishoreganj upazila, said, “My fields that I tilled for cultivation of Aman two weeks ago are now covered with new grass as I had to leave it unused for want of rainwater. Cattle are now grazing there.”
Contacted, Deputy Director of district DAE Abul Kashem Azad said, “We advise farmers to arrange irrigation using power run pumps. If they do so, there is no question of production fall even if the rain is less or delayed.”