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Farmers start cropping diversity in Barind

RAJSHAHI, May 15, 2018 (BSS) - Farmers have started cropping diversity after the best uses of new and modern technologies and seeds in this region including its vast barind tract in the wake of adverse impact of climate change.

Agriculture officials and scientists said the farmers reduced the cultivation of irrigation-dependent crop especially irri-boro paddy in the barind tract, commonly known as food storage of the country.

As a result, the acreage of various crops and cereals like wheat, maize, chickpea and black gram is increasing gradually in the drought-prone barind tract comprising 25 upazilas of Rajshahi, Chapainawabgonj and Naogaon districts.

"In many occasions, we are motivating the farmers to promote various cereals instead of only farming paddy in the current water- stress condition, said Engineer Abdur Rashid, Executive Director of Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA) today.

He said around 3,500 liters of water is needed to produce one kilogram of paddy. Whereas, less than 1,000 liters of water is required for the drought- tolerant varieties. Not only that, at least 15 bighas of land can easily be cultivated for wheat with using equal amount of water on one bigha of paddy land.

Rashid suggested appropriate using of farm machinery like power tiller operated seeder, strip till and zero till, bed planter, reaper and thresher to enhance the cereal production especially wheat.

ATM Rafiqul Islam, Deputy Manager (Agriculture) of BMDA, said the continuous paddy farming in the barind tract may face an acute crisis of water. So, more importance should be given on those cereals which need less- irrigation.

He told BSS that irrigation water has reduced to a greater extent in the barind area that declines farming of transplanted Aman.

To address the problem, BMDA and Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) have taken initiative to launch two drought- tolerant paddy varieties. He said preparation to bring drought tolerant varieties -- BRRIDHAN-48, BRRIDHAN-56 and BRRIDHAN-57 is underway.

Life span of BRRIDHAN-57, a short duration and drought tolerant variety, is 10 days less than that of BINADHAN-7, an early and high yielding variety, while 15 days less than BRRIDHAN-33.

After a long research, the regional station of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) has developed the drought tolerant rice varieties for the farmers of the drought- prone areas in the region for the first time.

Despite scanty rainfall, these varieties will give a satisfactory yield without any irrigation during the transplanted Aman season in the drought- prone area. Agriculturist Rafique mentioned that average yield of the BRRIDHAN-56 variety is 4.03 tonnes per hectare, while it is 3.74 tonnes from the BRRIDHAN-57 variety.

SM Mustafizur Rahman, Additional Director of DAE, Rajshahi, hoped that the varieties would bring a positive result for around 2 million hectares of land in the rain-fed drought prone area.

Terming the development of the drought-tolerant varieties as the demand of time, he expected that the new varieties would contribute a lot to ensure food security.