File photo: Farmers are harvesting Boro paddy at a cropland in Rangpur Sadar upazila Dhaka Tribune
The DAE has a fixed target of producing 20,531,470 tons of clean Boro rice from 4.784 million hectares of land in the country this season
Expanded adoption of Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) irrigation method during Boro rice farming can save minimum 30% irrigation water along with considerably increasing rice output.
Talking to BSS, agriculturist Dr Md Abdul Mazid, who got Independence Award 2018 Medal (food security category), said adoption of the simplest and lowest cost technology also helps farmers to adapt to scarcity of irrigation water.
“Adoption of AWD technology with proper agronomic management reduces five numbers of irrigation saving 30% water, 30 litres diesel and electricity for irrigation to produce 500 kg more Boro paddy per hectare of land,” he said.
Farmers have already started reaping enormous benefits of AWD irrigation technology following massive motivational activities being conducted by the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) and other agri-related organizations.
Dr Mazid, also former chief scientific officer of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, stressed on crop zoning to cultivate more irrigation water consuming crops in southern zones and less irrigation water consuming crops in drought-prone northern zones.
“As the agriculture sector is facing formidable threat due to climate change, lifting of underground water must be reduced to the minimum as there is no alternative to maintain the current increasing rate of food production,” he said.
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The DAE has a fixed target of producing 20,531,470 tons of clean Boro rice (30,797,205 tons of paddy) from 4.784 million hectares of land in the country this season.
“Adoption of the AWD irrigation method for Boro rice cultivation on 4.784 million hectares of land might produce some 2.392 million tons of additional paddy worth about Tk7,000 crore this season,” he said.
Along with producing additional Boro rice, adoption of the AWD irrigation technology will save around Tk1,000 crore for less use of diesel and electricity bringing immense benefits to soil health, environment and biodiversity.
“Farmers generally use 3,000 to 4,000 litres of irrigated water to produce one kilogram of clean Boro rice, whereas it needs only 1,500 to 2,000 litres depending on different zones when the AWD irrigation technology was adopted,” Dr Mazid added.
Senior Coordinator (Agriculture and Environment) of RDRS Bangladesh agriculturist Mamunur Rashid told BSS that the future of agriculture depends on availability of water as no crop can be cultivated without water.
“Under such circumstances, adoption of AWD irrigation technology has become crucial to reduce lifting of underground water for irrigation purpose amid changing climate to maintain the increasing trend in food output,” he said.
Talking to BSS, Chairman of Rangpur-based research organization “North Bengal Institute of Development Studies” agriculturist Dr Syed Samsuzzaman narrated the simplest AWD irrigation technology.
“The AWD irrigation technology properly determines irrigation time in growing Boro rice fields and requires only a 7 to 10cm diameter and 25cm perforated PVC pipe or hollow bamboo pieces or waste bottles of cold drinks to be installed vertically,” he said.
Farmers should irrigate Boro crop fields in such a way that water does not overtop the imperforated portion, watch leaching down of water through the pipe and irrigate when soil at the bottom of the pipe is visible.
“15cm on one side of the pipe is perforated for horizontal movement of water and it is to be installed vertically with its perforated portion under the ground and the soil within it is to be scooped out to make the soil at the pipe’s lower end visible,” he said.
Deputy Director of the DAE here Agriculturist Md Moniruzzaman said steps have been taken to popularize adoption of the AWD irrigation technology to increase Boro rice production using less water at reduced cost in Rangpur agriculture region.