The cultivation of Boro paddy in 16 northern districts of the country is threatened due to severe onslaught of drought, frequent price hike of fuel and erratic supply of power. The cultivation cost has also increased on a large scale following the rise in workers' wages, farmers said.
The Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) sources said a total of 17,28,359 hectares of land was fixed for Boro cultivation in 16 districts of Rajshahi and Rangpur division this year. Of them, 5,18,508 hectares of land are dependent on power driven pumps.
Sources said that, about 7,000 irrigation pumps have been set up in the fields in 16 districts for water supply. Of them, 70 percent pumps are run on diesel, while the rest are run on power.
Sources said that, there are more than 2.10 lakh irrigation pumps, which are operated by power. Of them, 1.65 lakh pumps are being operated under Rural Electricity Board (REB) local known as Palli Bidyut.
Sources said that, at present, about 45 crore litres of diesel is required in the area for diesel driven pumps, while additional 765 Megawatt (Mw) power is needed everyday for power driven pumps. But, farmers in the region are in problems over power and diesel. They cannot purchase necessary diesel for its high price.
On visiting greater Chalan Beel area, some farmers including Shamsher Ali, Zasmat Ali, Lalu Sheikh, Ramzan Sheikh and Bismillah Sheikh said that cracks have developed on their Boro fields for want of water.
Nazmul Huda, a farmer of Rayganj said he had cultivated 20 Bighas of land under a power-run pump. But, the pump has gone out of order due to power fluctuation.
Power Development Board and Palli Bidyut office sources said that the supply of power has now come down to half of the total demand. The sector is getting 140 Mw power while the daily demand is for 350 Mw.