Farmers have already harvested about 25 per cent of the boro paddy sown in haor areas of Sylhet despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Besides, the region’s vast haor tract has produced good yields, much to the delight of locals. Farmers began to harvest paddy as early as possible this season in anticipation of natural calamities that could devastate their crops.

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Six large haor areas in Moulvibazar were brought under cultivation this season with an aim to produce 218,022 tonnes of paddy, according to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) office in Sylhet.

In Sunamganj, the crop was cultivated on 223,330 hectares of land with a production target of 885,299 tonnes.

Similarly, 122,130 hectares of land in 54 haors were cultivated in Habiganj to produce 518,151 tonnes of rice.

During a visit to paddy fields in the Hakaluki haor areas, it was seen that farmers were passing busy times in reaping and storing the paddy from dawn to dusk.

“Suitable climate conditions alongside frequent rainfall during the growing season gave farmers hope of getting their desired production,” said Mahfuz Hamid, administrator of the Kulaura Problem Prospect Facebook group.

The group works in the locality to solve different social and economic problems and raise awareness on different issues.

Now is the perfect time to harvest paddy and so, farms are bustling with activity to get the job done in due time, he said.

“We are raising awareness among local farmers to harvest boro paddy as quickly as possible this season,” Hamid added.

Farmers are also quite pleased with the current price of boro paddy, leading to increased cultivation and employment opportunities for locals, he said.

Md Abdul Momin, agriculture officer of Kulaura upazila, told this correspondent that a favourable climate, quality seeds, proper use of fertiliser, monitoring and advice from field-level employees are the main reasons for this year’s bumper production.

“The damage caused by the recent storm was very little,” he said, adding that they first cut a sample of the grain to estimate the total harvest.

If its raw moisture content is 23 per cent, humidity in dry condition is 14 per cent, raw weight per hectare is 7.25 tonnes and dry weight per hectare is 6.49 tonnes, then each hectare will produce about 4.28 tonnes of rice.

“We are announcing each and every area for harvesting boro paddy quickly,” Momin said.

Nurul Mia of Mirshankar village said he is anxious about whether he will get the right price for his produce.

Siddeq Ali, a farmer of Halla area in Barlekha upazila of Moulvibazar, said an acute labour crisis prevails in the region as the government has enforced a countrywide lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The public transport system has also been shut down, resulting in a scarcity of workers to help farmers harvest paddy in the haors.

“This has raised labour costs,” Ali said.

“So, we have to spend more money to manage farmhands for harvesting crops,” he added.

Bimol Das, a haor farmer of Bhusimoil area under Kulaura upazila, said farmers are engaging even their schoolgoing children to harvest their paddy before the arrival of the upcoming nor’westers and hail-storm.

“This natural calamity may occur at any time and cause damage to the crops,” Das added.

Dilip Kumar Adhikari, additional director of the DAE office in Sylhet, said there may be a bumper paddy harvest this year thanks to the various government initiatives and favourable weather conditions.

Boro paddy was cultivated on 483,703 hectares of land in 424 haor areas under four districts of Sylhet division this season with a production target of 1.934 million tonnes of rice.

Over 25 per cent of these lands have already been harvested while rest will be harvested within a short period of time.

Since the paddy could be damaged by natural calamities, farmers have been asked to cut ripe crops early in order to prevent the whole harvest from being lost, Adhikari added. 

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