Large-scale promotion of irrigation has brought a revolutionary change to the agriculture sector in the region, including its vast Barind tract, supplementing the government efforts of ensuring food security. Farming scenario has also been changed as a result of expanding the irrigation facilities contributing a lot towards improving living and livelihood conditions of the people.
Abed Ali, 40, a farmer of Golai village under Godagari upazila, said they are getting water from deep tube-wells for both irrigation to the croplands and household purposes. Many of the grassroots farmers are cultivating and producing varieties of crops, fruits and vegetables almost round the year uninterruptedly.
In the current season, they are cultivating mustard, potato, wheat and maize besides varieties of vegetables, including cauliflower, cabbage, tomato, bottle gourd, bean and brinjal. Ali said crops and vegetables are cultivated on 15 bigha of land under each of the irrigation deep tube-wells.
Rabbil Hossain, 43, has established a tomato garden on 40 bigha of land through hanger method in Bamnahal area under Godagari upazila after the best uses of irrigation water. He has already sold his products worth around Taka three lakh during the current season. "Now, we are catching the high price," said Rabbil Hossain, who is also highly hopeful of earning around Taka 40 lakh more by selling tomatoes.
Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA) has provided irrigation to over 5.32 lakh hectares of croplands in the country's northwest region during the last 2021-22 fiscal contributing a lot to boosting production. The huge croplands were brought under irrigation facilities through 15,537 power-driven deep tube wells (DTWs) and 519 low lift pumps in almost round the year.
Till June last, BMDA, the largest irrigation-providing state organisation in the region, has activated 4,332 inoperative deep tube-wells, installed 601 low lift pumps, re-excavated 2063-kilometer canals and 3257 derelict ponds.The irrigated lands have yielded more than 34.32 lakh tonnes including 26.76 lakh tonnes of additional crops of around Taka 4,348.5 crore in the region especially in the vast Barind tract yearly. It has also constructed and expanded 12354.40-kilometer water distribution infrastructures alongside setting up 1579 drinking water supply installations, 572 dug wells and 749 cross-dams, which ensured a sound irrigation system.
In addition to imparting training to 1,51,097 farmers, around 2.59 crore saplings of various fruit, timber and herbal trees were planted in the command area to protect the environment and meet the growing demands for fruits and timber in the region. Dr Abul Kashem, Additional Chief Engineer of BMDA, said the region saw significant progress in the crop production sector following the expansion of irrigation facilities along with supplying water from the re-excavated canals and ponds.
During the recent past years, the BMDA has been promoting surface water irrigation in many of the water-stressed areas in order to lessen the gradually mounting pressure on underground water. BMDA has been implementing various need-oriented uplift programmes aimed at improving the socioeconomic conditions by increasing crop production side by side protecting the region from adverse impact of climate change. The implemented projects have yielded significant success in crop production and make an ecological balance. Those are also creating jobs for the unemployed people and also ensuring various facilities along with an environment- friendly weather in the region.
Yearly crop production has been enhanced to 34.32 lakh tonnes from 7.56 lakh, crop intensity to 226 percent from 117 percent while annual rainfall rose to 64 inches from 54.99 inches. Engineer Kashem mentioned that additional 68.90 lakh tonnes of food grains are supposed to be produced in the region if the remaining 5.83 lakh hectares of non-irrigated cultivable land were brought under irrigation. Jahangir Alam Khan, Coordinator of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) Project, said promotion of surface water irrigation instead of depending only on the groundwater-based ones is very important for the region to mitigate water scarcity.