Half of the monsoon is gone, but the village has not seen any rains this time. Fazlul Haque and several other farmers of the village who are prepared to transplant Aman crops are looking up to the sky now for clouds with no hope of help from the authorities for irrigation.
They see the sky getting dark sometimes, but that’s all. The farmers said the village is under the Barind irrigation project but they do not get the necessary support from the government.
“It needs at least three-inch deep water to plant Aman paddy. If it doesn’t rain now, it’ll be a disaster for us,” said Fazlul.
Some areas in Rangpur and Kurigram have been inundated in recent floods, while the rest of the north of Bangladesh has experienced no rains during the monsoon rice season of Aman.
The rainless days with only one month of the monsoon remaining in the Bangla calendar have left farmers worried over the cultivation of Aman paddy.
This situation will lead many farmers to use artificial modes of irrigation that will likely drive production costs, the farmers said.
Aman is the main paddy season of Bangladesh. According to government data, farmers cultivated Aman on nearly 6 million hectares of land two years ago. They cultivated Aush on 1.1 million hectares and Boro on 1.13 million hectares.
Bangladesh Meteorological Department said a mild heatwave was sweeping over Rajshahi, Panchagarh and Nilphamari districts and it may continue. No rains were in the forecast for the greater Dinajpur region.
Meteorologist Abdul Mannan said heavy rains are unlikely in the north in the next few days.
Mohammad Raju, a farmer in Thakurgaon’s Ranisankail, said he would wait for some more days while others have begun irrigating their lands with oil-run shallow tube wells. “I won't be able to wait if it doesn’t rain in the next few days.”
Fazlul said he and others in their village were also irrigating the lands with the shallow tube wells.
Abu Hossain, the district agriculture officer of Thakurgaon, said the farmers never think about the cost of production. “They'll go for cultivation no matter the cost of irrigation.”
He said the farmers still have another week to start planting Aman paddy. “They've time to wait.”
Farmer Fazlul also said fertiliser and insecticide prices have soared, factors that will affect the cost of production.
He bought a 50kg sack of Muriate of Potash fertiliser at Tk 1,200 while the price was Tk 750 last year.
Abu Hossain said they would monitor the market so that dealers cannot raise prices beyond the limits.
According to Fazlul, it takes diesel worth Tk 1,100 and two farm labourers to irrigate the lands in their village with two machines. Each labourer charges Tk 500 per day.
“The production will rise with this much irrigation. We’ll be in danger if [paddy] prices fall.”