New crops in the north
Farmers in eight northern districts are now intensifying cropping by introducing new cropping patterns. They are getting windfall profits from cultivating new crops, making four crops seasons round the year. Farmers said, high intensive four crops in sequence- aman (short duration)- mustard or potato mungbean - aus (pariza) are being tested against farmers cropping pattern boro (late) - aman (late) - potato in northern region of Bangladesh to increase productivity with minimum resource use and creation of seasonal employment. The program is collaborative and operated by RDRS Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University (BSMRAU) with financial assistance of Krishi Gobeshona Foundation (KGF), they added.
NGO RDRS Bangladesh official sources said, 400 farmers from eight northern districts Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Gaibandha, Nilphamari, Dinajpur, Panchagar, Thakugaon and Rangpur were involved for experimenting new cropping pattern which was tested in the last couple of years and became popular with farmers. The Agriculture and Environment Coordinator of NGO RDRS Bangladesh Mamunur Rashid said, the new cropping pattern is replacing boro rice cultivation by introducing mungbean and pariza in aus which is helping to conserve ground water. “Results of tested alternative cropping pattern indicated that farmers applied 16 to 35 times the irrigation, with mean ground water withdrawal from 12.4 to 20.9 million liters per hectare for irrigation in boro rice,” he said. Expansion of irrigation is stressing Bangladesh's water table, which in certain areas is dropping by 4 to 5 feet a year.
Nibaron Chandra Roy, a farmer at Sindurmati village in Lalmonirhat sadar said, the production of two imported and essential commodities, like pulse and edible oil, are increasing through the cultivation of mungbean and mustard respectively. “The biomass of mungbean and mustard is also contributing to increase organic matter in soil,” farmer Abdul Mazid at same village added. “Harvesting of short duration aman rice like BU dhan 1, BINA dhan 7 has created job opportunity in severe time of joblessness in monga period,” said farmer Jafar Ali at Nayarhat village in Lalmonirhat sadar.
Farmers Rakhal Chandra Roy, Banai Chandra Roy, Abed Ali, Shafiqul Islam and others at Mohendranagar village informed that they have earning good profits producing new crops taking help of NGO RDRS. New cropping patterns also helps to save the underground water, which is essential for the environment, they said. The Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila Agriculture officer Mohammad Nuruzzaman added that, considering system productivity, the alternative cropping pattern with four crops in sequence increased 20.79% yield and gross return by 76.81%, ultimately contributing to ensuring food security in Bangladesh by increasing sustainable cropping intensification.
After completion of successful experiments, RDRS have taken initiatives to expand the new pattern to wider farmers' communities, which currently include a total of 1750 farmers for 2013. These farmers are focusing on mustard cultivation followed by the harvesting of short duration aman rice like BU dhan 1, BINA 7, BRRI dhan 56, BRRI dhan 57 in October. The new mustard variety BARI Sarisha-14 is a fast growing and high yielding variety, introduced by BARI.