Rabiul Islam, a farmer in Rangpur's Mithapukur upazila, planted Aman paddy on more than two acres of land, but the crop's growth was very low due to lack of rain and extreme heat. Some of the seedlings planted on the land got burnt and died in the severe heat.
Many farmers in different parts of the country, including Rangpur, Dinajpur, and Panchagarh, have not been able to transplant rice seedlings due to a lack of rain while the paddy already planted in some areas is getting burnt in excessive heat.
In some areas, rice seedlings have died in the seed bed.
Cultivation hampered by severe heat and lack of rain has given rise to concerns about the yield of Aman during the second largest rice production season this year.
Heatwave is also ruining vegetable fields. Besides, farmers cannot extract jute fibres due to a lack of water.
Affluent farmers are irrigating their fields by pumps, while others are trying to irrigate the farmlands with water collected from ponds or other water bodies. Many farmers do not want to use irrigation pumps from fear of an increase in production cost.
Sources at DAE and farmers said Aman can be planted till mid-August.
The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) said like last year, this year too there is a target of cultivating Aman on about 59 lakh hectares of land, but it has not started even in 20% of the targeted area.
According to information from the DAE office in Dinajpur, there is a target of cultivating Aman paddy on around 2.61 lakh hectares of land, but rice seedlings have been planted on only 21,000 hectares, which is less than 10% of the target.
The situation is similar in Rangpur. Against the target of 1.66 lakh hectares, paddy has been planted on only 3,500 hectares of land in the district so far in the current season.
The rainy season has started, but a scorching heatwave has engulfed the country for about the last 20 days. The highest temperature of 39 degrees Celsius has been recorded in various districts.
Meteorologists said generally if the temperature is above 36 degrees Celsius in more than one district, it is considered a heatwave. Yesterday, such high temperatures were recorded in five districts – 37 degrees Celsius in Rajshahi, 36.1 in Sylhet, 36.8 in Rangpur, 36.8 in Syedpur and 36.3 in Dinajpur.
Meteorologists believe that it may take another three days for normal rainfall to come free of this situation.
Dr Md Abdul Mannan, a meteorologist at Bangladesh Meteorological Department, yesterday told TBS that normal rainfall might begin after three more days.
According to the Tentulia Weather Observatory, 78.3 mm of rainfall has been recorded in Tentulia upazila in the first 16 days of this month, while 576.8 mm was recorded during the same time last year.
Even staying on the field is hard
Bablu Tigya, a farmer in Dinajpur Sadar upazila, said, "There has been no rain in the district for the last one month. Our rice seedlings are getting burnt. Farmers are struggling even to stay in the field due to the excessive heat.
"Only farmers who have electricity, necessary equipment, and money can irrigate their fields. We cannot do it as irrigating with pumps will increase production costs. So, I have not been able to plant paddy yet."
Farmer Milan Mia of Pirgacha Upazila of Rangpur said, "I irrigated my two bighas of land with a pump, but I will not be able to make much profit, because it has increased my expenses."
Deven Roy, a farmer in Dinajpur Sadar upazila, said the delay in starting cultivation might reduce the Aman production by half.
Additional Deputy Director (Crop) of Dinajpur DAE Khaledur Rahman told The Business Standard that the DAE has been advising farmers who cultivate short-duration varieties of paddy like Brri-Dhan75 and Brri-Dhan87 to plant their crops promptly.
DAE Deputy Director Dr Syed Md Rafiqul Amin told TBS, "Our agricultural officials are advising the farmers to install irrigation pumps and complete the planting of Aman quickly."
Agriculture Minister Dr Md Abdur Razzaque told TBS, "We are monitoring the situation. There is time until mid-August for planting Aman. As the rains have started, we hope to finish planting as per target by this time."