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Dhaka Tribune

Uncertainty looms over jute production target

Update : 24 Apr 2014, 06:33 PM

A prolonged drought in Kurigram is taking a heavy toll on farmers as they are unable to cultivate jute along with other crops. This is not only raising jute cultivation cost for farmers but has also put production target at risk.  

Although the period of sowing jute seeds is almost over, a vast amount of land is still left uncultivated. It is two weeks into Baishakh but rainfall is still awaited. Soil in the lands has dried up and has turned into dust because of the sizzling heat wave. 

Farmers have sown jute seeds but those are not sprouting despite irrigation. Besides, seeds that are sprouting are dying fast because of lack of water in the soil. Many farmers have sown seeds multiple times in the same field but to no avail. Meanwhile, Boro, corn and vegetables fields are required to be irrigated every day.    

Department of Agricultural Extension sources say as per the target of this year, jute will be cultivated in 24,421 hectares of land. However, cultivation has so far been done on only 11,000 hectares. Of the 1,62,288 hectares of land in the district, the amount of land dependent on irrigation stands at 1,40,772 hectares.

Although it is mid-Baishakh, farmers are forced to cultivate a large area of land through irrigation. Yet, there are many jute fields that have been left uncultivated.  

According to government statistics, 45,094 pumps, including low-lift pumps and deep as well as shallow tube wells, are required for irrigation purposes in the district, though only 36,581 are available. A severe irrigation crisis now exists as irrigation pumps are increasingly going out of order because the water table has gone deep down. Weeds and different diseases of jute seeds have developed in the fields. Farmers are paying Tk120-150 for an hour of irrigation which is raising the cultivation cost.  

“I have sown jute seeds in four bighas of land and have irrigated. But the lack of moisture in the soil because of the drought has prevented seeds from sprouting despite irrigation,” said Abdul Khaleq, a farmer from Kathalbari.      

“We usually have rainfall at this point in the year. The rain keeps the soil wet which reduces the need for irrigation. This year, however, the soil has not got a single drop of water which is why we are largely dependent on irrigation now,” Badiar Rahman from Sukhyati village in Nageshwari told the Dhaka Tribune.  

Only 47mm rainfall has been recorded in this season in the district, with some areas where there was no rain at all. 

Department of Agricultural Extension, however, has suggested that farmers irrigate lands to grow crops. Pratib Kumar Mondol, Deputy Director of the district unit of the department, said despite pitfalls, we would suggest farmers to irrigate lands for cultivating jute.    

“If there is no rain, jute cultivators will face losses. Besides, cultivation targets in the district will be hampered because lands will remain uncultivated. Yet, farmers should irrigate to cultivate jute even it raises production cost. The same should be followed for rice, corn and vegetables fields,” he added.

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