Climate change forcing Barind farmers to change cropping pattern

Published : 11 Feb 2022 08:44 PM

Due to change in climatic pattern and an increased menace of Chilly cold, drought and flood during the recent years, the practice and mode of agriculture is also being changed in the Barind region of greater Rajshahi districts.

According to sources, for the last one-decade or more, farmers of Barind region are incurring  frequent losses in crop production due to flash flood, excessive cold temperature or drought.  The loss was mainly due to inaundation and damage of standing Aush, Boro and transplanted Aman paddy in the flash flood.

Despite the loss, cultivation of Aush and Aman has increased in 1,16,231 hectares of land in Rajshahi region with an increase of 3,14,680 metric tonnes of paddy production during the last five years.

Recently, the farmers of Barind region have harvested BRRI-71 paddy which requires no ploughing of land because that paddy is produced along with other partner (sathi) crops.

In new pattern of crop production Aman paddy is being cultivated during the monsoon, edible-oil seed, pulse, wheat and paddy are being produced during Rabi (winter and dry season) season and Aush paddy, Mungbean and jute are being cultivated during the Kharif-1( pre-monsoon) period. The water required for irrigation in the said cultivation pattern was also very low( except the monsoon Aman which is cultivated based on rain water) .

It is learnt, a paddy named BINA Dhan-7 developed by Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture has opened an immense possibility to ensure food security of the country. BINA Dhan-7 was a brief-time harvested, high yield variety of paddy. Farmers can reap the paddy within 110 to 115 days of its cultivation. As  a result, after harvesting the paddy, farmers get the opportunity to cultivate Potato, Mustard, Gram, Peanut and some other Rabi crops before clearing their fields for Boro cultivation.

Nurun Nabi (55), a farmer of village Bijoynagar under Godagari upazila informed, the recent flood, drought or chill winter is causing a huge damage of crops and fruits in the region. Referring a flash-flood caused by sudden rainfall for continuous two-day recently, he said it was unlikely and unexpected such a continuous heavy rainfall during the late winter. The rainfall caused a severe damage of standing crops including paddy in the Barind region. For such a weird climatic condition, famers of the region were forcing to adopt new cropping pattern which requires less time to grow and harvest, less water and less money and there is no damage of crops due to sudden climatic disaster. 

On the other hand, according to Dr. Harun ur Rashid, Senior Scientific Officer of Rice Research Institute in Rajshahi,  the BRRI-71 paddy yield was 19 maund per bigha of land.  The paddy sapling is transplanted in a jute field as a relay cropping system. The cost of labour and transplanting was less by Tk. 3,000 per bigha. Moreover, the paddy was harvested ten-day earlier than other conventional varieties and at least Tk.7,000 was saved in cultivation of this variety in total than cultivation of other varieties of rice in a bigha of land.  

At the same time, cultivation of irrigation-free pulses has been widely practiced among farmers in the Barind area.  During the last two years,  cultivation of lentils has increased on 4,500 hectares of land. The cultivation of gram, Mungbean and Maskalai has also been increased in the region.

Senior Scientific Officer of Barendra Centre of  Agriculture Research Dr. Shakhawat Hossain informed, during last season lentil was produced in 500 bighas of land under Pulse Research Institute. He mentioned, there is scarcity of water in the basin of the river Padma most of the time of the year and the climate of the region is turning harsh. Due to withdrawal of water from Padma 

through the Farakka dam for ages, miles long char of sand dunes appeared on the bed of the river drying up all its tributaries and no water is also available in local  water bodies for the same reason.  

Dr. Chowdhruy Sarowar Jahan Sajal, Professor of the department of Geology and Mining of Rajshahi University in this connection said, due to less rainfall, there was an increased pressure on subterranean water for irrigation and thus the underground water level was decreasing year after year threatening the shortage of not only water for irrigation but also of drinking water.

To get rid of such a catastrophic situation, farmers of the region were not inclined to cultivate the drought resistance, less water consuming varieties of crops, informed Dr. Enamul Haque, Project Coordinator of Preservation Agriculture Project. Farmers under this project are being taught to cultivate various crops which can be produced without cultivation and less or without irrigation. In cultivation of crops under this project, the cost of fuel has been lessened by 80 percent,  labour cost has also been decreased by 30 percent totalling 50 percent less cost in production of crops and pulses and the fertility of the land was, on the other hand, increasing and saving the land from erosion.

Not only pattern of cultivation of crops has been changed in Barind region during the last one decade but aiming at saving water, farmers of the Barind region were now growing vegetables like Tomato,  Strawberry, Brinjal and other vegetables and fruits and in many crop lands where rain fed paddy was only crop round the year have now turned to Guava, Mango, Jujube and Litchi orchards.

Sources of Barind Multipurpose Development Authority informed, the climate change and recurrent natural disasters have poised to become a major threat for food security of Barind region. To save the crops from such disaster, there was no way but to adapt to  crop diversification and short term, less water consuming HYV crops and vegetables in the region.  Such initiative will lessen the use of subterranean water for irrigation purposes recharging the underground water reservoirs. The subterranean water reservoirs were depleting fast due to excessive use of underground water for the purpose of irrigation. To get rid of the situation BMDA has dug 550 wells to recharge rain water underground.  Each of the wells are 70 to 120 feet deep. Rainwater at first accumulated in the canals and then that goes deep underground through those wells. BMDA was also encouraging farmers to switch to new crops, vegetables and fruits which require less water, less time to grow and less fertiliser and thus increasing the fertility of soil, mentioned the sources.