Bumper Boro harvest likely
Monday, 31 March 2008

While the country is experiencing overheated food prices in the wake of poor aman output and global food shortage, agriculture officials expect that the boro production is likely to hit an all-time high this time if the risk factors do not take their toll on it, reports UNB.

"For the first time, boro paddy was cultivated in all the 64 districts of the country. This is a good sign and we''re expecting a bumper output this time around," Dr Shahidul Islam, director field service wing department of Agricultural Extension Department, told UNB on Saturday.

"We''ve set the production target at 1.75 crore metric tons from 45 lakh hectares of land brought under boro cultivation across the country this year. There is every possibility that the output will exceed the target if things go well," he said referring to some risk factors.

"We''ll be able to achieve much more than the target and that could be an all-time high," he said. Asked about the risk factors, he said sudden storms, unusual drought, overheat, hailstorm and frequent power disruptions hampering irrigation during reproductive stage might affect the output.
He, however, said the next 30-40 days are critical for boro as the harvest is expected to start in mid-April and complete in the last week of May.

Asked why he sees the bright prospect of bumper production, Dr Shahidul Islam found intensive care both by the farmers and the government, good monitoring by field officials, favourable weather, good irrigation facilities, enough supply of fertilizers and other government supports to the farmers as the reasons that brightened the prospect.

He recalled that the country saw a poorer boro production last year due to unfavourable weather but this year "the weather is so good so far."

He said a total of 43.4 lakh hectares of land were brought under boro cultivation last year with a target of 1,69 crore metric tons but the ultimate harvest was 1.59 crore mts, some 10 lakh mts less than the target.

According to him, the major boro-producing districts are Tangail, Mymensingh, Jamalpur, Netrakona, Kishoreganj, Comilla, Brahmanbaria, Habiganj, Sunamganj, Bogra, Naogaon, Sirajganj, Rangpur, Gaibandha, Kurigram, Dinajpur and Jessore.
"Farmers in the southern districts, such as Barguna, Patuakhali, Jhalakati and Pirojpur, don''t usually cultivate boro, but they did on a small scale this year due to initiative of the government," he told Abdur Rahman Jahangir.

Dr Shahidul said boro is more weather-friendly and better productive than aman. Every year, he said, nearly 52-53 lakh hectares of land are brought under Aman cultivation while 42-45 lakh hectares under boro. "Interestingly, boro has much higher output than aman."

He said if the farmers could be provided with good irrigation facilities and adequate fertilizers, the production of boro, mainly an irrigation-dependent crop, could be cultivated on larger scale across the county in the coming years.
He also underscored the need for taking effective measures by the government after the harvest of boro paddy so that the farmers are not deprived of their due prices by the middlemen.

"Every year we see that the middlemen make huge profits capitalising on the bumper paddy harvest. But the farmers do not get the real benefits which frustrate them to a great extent and thus they lose inspiration for farming in the next year," Dr Shahidul Islam said.

For example, he said, "Two months ago we bought potato at Tk 25 per kg but after its bumper production this season the farmers are now selling it at merely Tk 5-6 per kg. "So the government needs to think about measures to protect the interests of the farmers."

He hoped that the prevailing unusual rice price across the country would come down sharply after the boro harvest.

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