Drought hampers aman cultivation, jute rotting in Satkhira

Aman cultivation and jute rotting are being severely hampered in seven upazilas of Satkhira district, as an acute, drought-like situation has been prevailing this year.

Sowing of Aman paddy starts early July, and continues until late August. Insufficient rainfall is hampering the cultivation during this season.

According to sources of  Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), ongoing aman cultivation, during the peak sowing season, is badly hampered due to insufficient rain in Ashasuni, Kaliganj, Shyamnagar, Debhata, Kalaroa Tala, and Satkhira Sadar upazilas as farmers are reluctant to bear the high cost of irrigation.

The farmers of Rajar Bagan, Machkhola, Shaillya, Alipur, Bhomra, and  Labshah areas in Sadar upazila said, there isn’t sufficient water in the beels or ponds due to lack of rain.

Although the peak aman cultivation time is passing away, 60 to 70 percent of agricultural land still remain unprepared. On the other hand, the aman saplings were getting older for planting.

Moklesur Rahman, a farmer of Sadar upazila said, one part of the country has been flooded leaving thousands without homes, while another part is in a drought with no rain, leaving us in great distress.

“Due to lack of water, I cannot prepare my land for aman cultivation, ” he said.

Likewise, most of the jute fields in the district have experienced damaged jute fibres due to intense heat, and lack of water supply.

The  farmers  were eagerly anticipating rainfall as the ongoing Bengali month of Ashar usually witnesses torrential rains.

They also cite substandard jute fertilizers, adverse climate conditions, and indifference of the local agriculture officers to have hastened the crop damage.

This year, the jute cultivation target in the district was set at 1,37,624 bales from 12,230 hectares of land, of which 4,855 bales are expected to grow from Sadar upazila, 4,545 bales from Kalaroa upazila, 3,015 from Tala upazila, 1,013 bales from Debhata upazila, and more.

In 2018, the target was set at 54,633 bales from 4,855 hectares of land in Sadar upazila, 45,068 bales from 4,500 hectares at Kolaroa, 33,928 bales from 3,015 hectares at Tala, 1,013 belts from 90 hectares at Debhata, 10,913 bales from 170 hectare at Kaliganj, 1,013 bales  from 90 hectares at Assasuni, and 56 bales from 5 hectares at Shyamnagar upazila.

In 2017, the farmers cultivated jute on 12,205 hectares of land in the district exceeding the target of 11,630 hectares. Of those, 4,850 hectares are at Satkhira Sadar, 4,000 hectares at Kalaroa, 3,010 hectares at Tala, 85 hectares at Debhata, 170 hectares at Kaliganj, and 90 hectares at Ashashuni upazila.

Last year’s bumper yield in the district had drawn many to cultivate jute, but the recent shortage of water is preventing the cultivation.

A spot visit in the area found that local peasants, finding no other alternative, were irrigating their land to cultivate aman crops, and they kept the harvested jute piled up on the roadside.

Meanwhile, the farmers of the district are gathering in open fields praying to God for rain voicing ‘ Allah megh de, pani de’ ( Oh, God please give us rain).

DAE Deputy Director Aravinda Mandal said, the marshy lands of the district were dried up, and the farmers could not prepare their aman fields easily. So they could not plant the saplings of the aman seedlings.

On the other hand, the farmers also fell into trouble as they are unable to decompose their jute stalks for lack of sufficient water in the water-bodies, he added.