Rangpur farmers in despair as irrigation price increases

Published : 24 Jan 2022 08:33 PM

Farmers in Rangpur region are disappointed with the increase in diesel price, the key ingredient for the irrigation in Boro cultivation. They say that the production cost of Boro paddy per kg last season was Tk 27. This time it will cost three Tk more per kg of paddy. As such, this time in the Boro season, in five districts of Rangpur region, the farmers will have to calculate the additional cost of irrigating 221, 147 hectares of land through diesel driven irrigation system over 55 crore 28 lakh 67 thousand 500 Tk.

Farmers in Rangpur region are worried about Boro paddy cultivation due to rising fuel prices. Because they have to count the extra cost of cultivating this irrigated crop. Besides, there is uncertainty about the fair price after paddy production. Last year, farmers bought diesel at the rate of Tk 65.20 per liter and irrigated it. And at the beginning of this season, it is being sold at 80.20 Tk. In other words, the price of diesel has increased by 15 Tk per liter. The additional cost per bigha will be over 300 Tk. As such, the additional cost per acre of land will be at least 2500 Tk.

The agriculture department has set a target of cultivating Boro paddy in 503, 550 hectares of land in Gaibandha, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Rangpur and Nilphamari districts of Rangpur agricultural region this season. Farmers are busy in planting Boro rice seedlings on time in spite of various adverse conditions including cold wave in an attempt to survive in the coming days. Some are uprooting the seedlings from the seedbed, others are preparing the land by weeping for planting the seedlings with water in the dry land. Again, many are planting Boro rice seedlings at the beginning of the season with hope to profit from the crop of this season.

According to the Rangpur Regional Office of the Department of Agricultural Extension, in the last Boro season, irrigation was provided to about five lakh hectares of land in five districts of the region through a total of 230,398 irrigation machines. Among the irrigation machines, there are 74,066 electric powered, 124 solar powered and 156,208 diesel powered. This year also, the target has been set to cultivate Boro paddy in 503, 550 hectares of land through that amount of irrigation.

Sources further said that in the last Boro season, 63,395 hectares of land were irrigated under 2, 770 deep tube wells, 340 hectares under 42 electric and 25 solar-powered LLPs, 71,254 lakh shallow tube wells under electric powered LLP. Irrigation was provided to 609 hectares of land under 99 shallow tube wells. Besides, irrigation was provided to 295 hectares under 23 deep tube wells powered by diesel, 749 hectares under 528 diesel powered LLPs and 220,103 hectares under 155,659 shallow tube wells powered by diesel. In other words, two lakh 8 thousand 458 hectares of land has been irrigated through 84 thousand 190 irrigators and two lakh 21 thousand 146 hectares of land has been irrigated through one lakh 56 thousand 206 irrigators. The target for Boro cultivation in five districts of Rangpur region this season has been set at five lakh three thousand 550 hectares of land. According to the relevant sources, the target is to irrigate more than 221,148 hectares of land through one lakh 56,208 diesel-powered irrigation machines.

Boro farmers say that as the price of diesel has gone up by Tk 15 per liter, they will have to bear the additional cost of Tk 300 per bigha. As such, the amount of additional cost per hectare and the additional cost per hectare will be at least two and a half thousand Tk. In all, the additional cost of diesel-dependent irrigation in two lakh 21 thousand 148 hectares of land will be 55 crore 26 lakh 6 thousand 500 Tk.

Farmers Abdur Rahman, Zulfiqar Ali and Moin Uddin of Palashbari upazila of Gaibandha said they cultivate Boro on more than two acres of land each year. This time too, he has taken all the preparations for planting saplings in that land. But as production costs rise due to diesel, they will change their decision to cultivate Boro paddy. Farmers including Chhamchul Haque and Nizamuddin from Annadanagar area of Pirgachha upazila in Rangpur said that if price of fuel increases, it becomes difficult for them to survive due to not getting any profit from paddy cultivation

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture is working to reduce the use of groundwater to maintain the balance of the environment. Farmers are being encouraged to cultivate alternative crops instead of irrigated Boro. But over the years, farmers have been facing losses due to adverse effects of climate change and rising prices of essential commodities. Mahbubar Rahman, Additional Deputy Director (Grains), Regional Agriculture Extension Department, Rangpur, said farmers were being advised to cultivate crops that use less groundwater. Farmers are being advised not to waste the lands which are provided with various drainage systems including ribbon-pipes for irrigation during the Boro season. So it costs less to give supplementary irrigation in another season. Abu Sayem, Additional Deputy Director (LR) of Khamarbari Dhaka, Department of Agricultural Extension, said that people of the agriculture department are working in the field all the time. Farmers are being encouraged to cultivate Aush paddy instead of Boro paddy to reduce the use of ground water, including increasing diesel prices and avoiding irrigation crisis for various reasons.