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Dhaka Tribune

HEATWAVE

Kushtia farmers brace for production debacle

  • Thousands of bighas of land remained uncultivated in the absence of irrigation
  • Crops being massively damaged due to days of sweltering heat
  • DAE fears that crop production will see a drastic fall
Update : 28 Apr 2024, 10:08 AM

As the ongoing heatwave has weighed on drought in Kushtia, the production of crops is already massively threatened in the district.

This comes as rivers, canals, ponds and other water bodies are drying up gradually in the district, causing a growing water crisis.   

Driven by the drought, thousands of bighas of land have remained uncultivated in the absence of irrigation.  

Crops, including Boro rice, mangoes and litchis, are being massively damaged due to days of sweltering heat.  

The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) fears that crop production in the district will see a drastic fall if the situation continues.  

It says that amid the heatwave, there is no chance that the Aush harvest will reach the targeted level.  

Boro cultivation was targeted on 36,830 bighas of land, but the rice variety was not grown on around 6,000 bighas of land due to the drought, sources at the DAE said. 

Mirpur Upazila is the worst affected as a whopping 3,322 bighas of land remained uncultivated, while the figures in Sadar and Kumarkhali upazilas stand at 1,125 and 765 bighas of land respectively.   

Meanwhile, it has been planned that Aush paddy will be grown on 33,500 hectares of land. But the drought is a huge threat to the expected Aush harvest.  

The DAE could not provide information on what area of land meant for Aush production is unused now, but said that several thousand bighas remain uncultivated.  

If irrigation is not facilitated there, it will not be possible to grow the rice variety there. 

Farmers’ woes

Farmer Izabul Haq of Sadar Upazila said that he cultivated vegetables and bananas on leased land. 

“There is a canal linked to the Ganges-Kobadak Irrigation Project, commonly known as GK Project, but that does not have water. Efforts for irrigation are going in vain. If this situation continues, our crops will dry up,” he said.

Nurul Islam, another farmer of the area, who grew paddy and maize on 20 bighas of land, said that he has already spent several lakh taka in the process. 

“We’re not getting water for irrigation any longer. The paddy and maize plants are being badly damaged,” he said. 

“I’ll be ruined if I can’t harvest the crops as expected.” 

Visiting croplands in the districts, this correspondent found that vegetables, fruits and paddy are getting damaged in the scorching heat.  

What govt officials say

DAE official Soutom Kumar Shil said that Boro cultivation was severely affected by the drought. 

“If the crisis continues, Aush production will be hampered too,” he said.

Ibrahim Md Taimur, executive engineer of the Department of Public Health Engineering, said that the drought has been continuing for several weeks due to a lack of rainfall and suspension of the GK Irrigation Project. 

“Additionally, the underground water level drops at this time every year. And the situation this year has become more severe than in the past,” he said. 

He is not sure when the irrigation program will resume. 

Mizanur Rahman, in charge of the GK Project in Bheramara Upazila, said: “Three pumps are out of order due to technical glitches. We’re trying to get them fixed.”

He, too, is unaware of the time for the possible resumption of the irrigation program. 

DAE Deputy Director Sufi Md Rafiquzzaman, however, said: “Attempts are being made to resume the irrigation project.” 

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