Drought-like situation haunts farmers

Published : 29 Aug 2022 09:50 PM | Updated : 29 Aug 2022 09:50 PM

A drought-like situation for lack of rain has been prevailing in the country, affecting cultivation of different types of crops especially Aman paddy and vegetables badly. It may pose a serious threat to the livelihood of many farmers in Bangladesh. Apart from Bangladesh, most of the European countries are also facing severe drought. About 60 percent of the EU and the UK has been affected by drought. Record-breaking heat waves linked to climate change have dried up rivers across the continent and sent water reserves plummeting to historic lows there.

In Bangladesh, most farmers depend on rainwater for paddy, other crops and vegetables cultivation and rotting and processing the jute fibre during the monsoon. The full monsoon is set to disappear, but the rain fall has been below normal till date. The drought like situation has already created an unprecedented stress on water levels in the entire country. 

Farmers usually cultivate aman paddy from July 1 to July 31, but this year, even in the second week of July, aman growers failed to prepare an aman seedbed. The Aman season is almost over and only 10 to 15 days are now left. 

All the canals and water bodies are dried up and farmers are not getting adequate water for rotting jute. On the other hand, the low rainfall may bring down output of the country’s second biggest crop aman in the next season.

So, transplantation of aman is sluggish in various parts especially in central and southwest Bangladesh due to inadequate monsoon. The shortage of rain might also hinder achievement of the target of aman cultivation this season.

The government will have to ensure uninterrupted

 fuel supply for irrigation across the country. If the

 government along with affluent people stand by the

 farmers, there would be no major food shortage in Bangladesh

All know the incumbent government always remains beside farmers of the country and it takes all the necessary steps to help farmers during any crisis. If the drought continues, the farmers will suffer losses. On the other hand, farmers are facing serious difficulties in getting most essential inputs required for agriculture like seed, fertiliser, power, diesel, machineries and irrigation due to sky rocketing price hike of everything.

Taking the issue seriously, the government is committed to ensure supply of uninterrupted power for Aman irrigation. Uninterrupted electricity supply is a must for farmers from 12 midnight to 6am for irrigation during Aman season.

The irrigation activities cannot be interrupted at any circumstances. So, due to insufficient rainfall during the Aman season this year, uninterrupted power supply to irrigation systems is necessary to continue production in the agricultural sector.

Apart from Aman paddy, country’s farmers especially in the north region including the vast Barind tract, east, mid and west cultivate early varieties of winter vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, radish, carrot, beet, turnip, tomato, leafy spinach, red spinach, and receive lucrative prices in the wholesale markets during this time. It has been noticed over last few years that a large number of unemployed youths living in the country’s different rural areas have also become self-reliant through cultivation of crops, vegetables and fruits. After getting repeated bumper output with excellent market price every year, farmers are bringing more lands under crops and vegetable farming across the country. Now various crops farming are also continuing and tender plants of some crops are growing superbly on lands across the country.

Government’s measurers are generating fresh investments and create huge employment opportunities in the agriculture sector. The government has already brought a revolutionary change in the rural economy

So, apart from the government, all stakeholders will have to come forward to encourage the growers to continue cultivating crops and vegetables during this tough time and stand beside the farmers. As all the growers are facing the worst situation due to drought like situation coupled with price hike of all agri inputs, they need support from the government to continue the cultivation.  

On the other hand, an acute fertiliser crisis has also left the farmers in distress across the country, threatening production shortfall this year. But the agriculture ministry confirmed that there is no shortage of fertiliser in the country as it has enough preparations till next boro season.

The fact is that farmers are not getting fertilisers while organised syndicates showing thumbs to the minister are doing everything to create artificial crisis. Various organised syndicates and unholy nexus mostly dealers have also created an artificial crisis in order to make hefty profits at the expense of farmers, showing excuses that shortage of fertilisers and their prices soared across the globe.

So, the government will also have to take immediate action against the syndicate, dealers and middlemen involved in such immoral and unethical activities that may hit the country’s agriculture production.    

In this regard, the agriculture, food and the industries ministries will have to work in unison so that farmers can get sufficient fertiliser on time. Apart from the three ministries, the home and commerce ministries have also huge responsibility to protect farmers from the greedy dealers and take strict action against those who are trying to create an artificial crisis by stockpiling fertilisers.

The authorities concerned must take necessary measures to keep farmers’ irrigation pumps operative and fertiliser available. The government will also have to ensure uninterrupted supply of fuel for irrigation across the country. Besides, necessary advice will also have to be given to the farmers in this regard immediately.

Side by side with huge government assistance and easy-term agri-loans, many NGOs should supply quality seed, inputs and technological assistance to farmers to further increase crops and vegetable production during this critical period.  In this regard, country’s scientists will have to come up with the innovation of climate tolerant crops and the adaptation of modern technology for ensuring food security across the globe. The government should concentrate to food preservation, reduction of post-harvest loss, and nutrition security for the same purpose. If the government along with affluent persons and business people stand by the farmers, there would be no major food shortage in Bangladesh.

S. M. Mizanur Rahman is working as Assistant Editor at Bangladesh Post