With the help of scientists of the Department of Agriculture in Rajshahi, a local farmer has successfully cultivated and harvested paddy planted without tilling for the first time in the dry, rugged, weary Barind region of the district.
Farmer Naoshed Ali of Rajarampur village of Godagari upazila, who harvested the paddy grown without tilling told the Bangladesh Post that whenever Jalal Uddin, sub-assistant Agriculture Officer of Godagari insisted he plant paddy without tilling his field, he had refused to do so fearing a wastage of money and labour since no one had ever thought of doing such an unusual activity. Other farmers of the area also rejected the idea and maintained it was impossible to cultivate rice in un-tilled soil. However, Shafiqul Islam, Upazila Agriculture Officer of Godagari assured Ali of compensation in case of failure, so he agreed to cultivate paddy of BRRI-52 variety on his one bigha of land on an experimental basis.
Farmer Naoshed Ali has recently successfully harvested paddy from that field. He received 24 maunds of paddy at a total cost of only Taka 2,500 for cultivation. The new system of paddy cultivation without tilling the soil is thus profitable, he said, adding he now wants to cultivate paddy the same way during the next season.
The soil of Barind region is dry and rugged, said Jalal Uddin, Sub-assistant agriculture officer. Even floodwater does not seep into the topsoil. As a result, no farmer at first agreed to accept the no-till process of planting paddy. But after repeated insistence and luring them with compensation, he succeeded in convincing the farmers to cultivate paddy without tilling. He further mentioned that though the paddy plant grew in an untilled field, there was no menace of pests and insects.
Abdul Hakim, another farmer who assisted Naoshad during planting said that to cultivate paddy without tilling the land, they cleared creepers and undergrowth from the field before the rainy season. Later, when the rain started in July, he just leveled the field with a ladder and planted paddy saplings with the help of a planting machine. The saplings were then 15 to 16 days old.
Another farmer Zaidur Rahman said, the saplings to be planted in the un-tilled field should be grown in a tray or in polythene bags and the saplings should be transplanted within 15 to 16 days of age.
Shafiqul Islam, upazila agriculture officer of Godagari said, it took only three and a half months to harvest paddy cultivated without tilling. The process is hugely cost effective, the quality of land remains unaffected and the production rate is also higher. Due to the use of less fertiliser, less seeds and less pesticides, farmers will also be able to cultivate paddy at much less expenditure. He hoped the process will be passed on to more farmers in the near future.
Sarker Shariful Islam, Rajshahi