A prolonged inundation of the paddy field during monsoon creates the ground for bacterial diseases and insect infestation at later stages.
Timely advice about the control measures in such situation can prevent the damages to a great extent, but the paddy growers of Nilphamari's Dimla upazila are not getting the government agricultural officials by their side right in the time of need.
The upazila has 25 sub-assistant agricultural officers (SAAOs) who are supposed to pay regular visits to the fields in 10 unions. They are responsible for monitoring the crop health and come up with timely advice to the growers.
The growers are alleging that they can hardly get in touch with the SAAOs.
Abdul Aziz, a farmer from Doholpara village under Khogakharibari union, said the sight of the SAAO visiting their area is very rare.
When the farmers face any problem with the crop health, they go to the nearby pesticides seller for the remedies. “After the floods, we are buying rice at Tk55 a kg. The flood damaged the paddy of my field. Now the leaves of the paddy in my one bigha plot are dying. I am at a loss whether to buy rice Tk55 a kg, or to buy the pesticide with the money,” said Abdul Aziz
Sources at the upazila office of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) said instead of making their rounds at the union level, the SAAOs spend much of their time hanging around the upazila office.
Dimla Upazila Agricultural Officer Humayun Kabir said they have 25 SAAOs.
Among them, two female SAAOs live in the upazila. The others live elsewhere in the district, mostly in Nilphamari Sadar, he added.
It is mentionable here that one has to travel about 45km distance to reach the Dimla upazila headquarters from Nilphamari town.
Among the SAAOs, ATM Shamsuzzaman, who looks after the agricultural activity of growers in Purbo Chhatnai Union Parishad, lives further away in neighbuoring Rangpur district.
“I did not find a quality apartment in Dimala which I could rent. I come from Rangpur once in a week. Besides, I work as the Rangpur office chief of a national daily,” Shamsuzzam said bluntly.