Farmers in Bangladesh have already harvested 90 per cent of the Boro paddy in the current season, dispelling worries that the impending cyclonic storm could have a major effect on the production of the biggest crop and hurt food security, the agriculture ministry said.

“At present, we do not have a large portion of Boro paddy in the field. Yet, we are encouraging farmers to cut their crops as fast as possible,” said Agriculture Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque.

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Concerns grew as a low-pressure area is brewing over the north Andaman Sea and the adjoining east-central Bay of Bengal, said the Bangladesh Meteorological Department on Saturday.

This could intensify into a cyclonic storm and likely to make landfall through the Odisha-West Bengal-Khulna coast around May 26, it said.

About 50 per cent of Boro rice were to be harvested by the second week of May, which is when the monsoon season is expected to start, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in its latest Grain and Feed update on Bangladesh.

Cyclone Amphan hit the country on May 20 last year and affected Boro paddy in the fields, driving up the prices of the staple in the domestic market.

“The storm would not cause much damage to the crop as farmers harvested most of the paddy,” said Md Mesbahul Islam, senior secretary of the agriculture ministry.

Farmers planted paddy on 48.83 lakh hectares this season and harvested 90 per cent of the crop, according to an estimate of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE).

Crop collection in the major belts of Boro paddy, including haor areas, has already been completed. The harvesting of some late varieties recently began in some areas, including the Rajshahi region, where there will be no major impact of the upcoming cyclone, Islam added.

Md Asadullah, director-general of the DAE, said his office had advised farmers to harvest all the paddy that had matured.

There is some paddy in Rangpur, Dinajpur and Manikganj that has not been harvested yet, he added.

According to Islam, the yield of Boro paddy would be higher this year, and an accurate calculation would be available once all the paddy is cut and collected.

Compared to last year, Boro has been cultivated on about 130,000 hectares more land this year, said the agriculture minister in a press release yesterday.

In addition, the cultivation of hybrid paddy has expanded to about 3.26 lakh hectares, Razzaque said.

“Combined with the expanded area and the hybrid cultivation, we expect the production of rice to be 10-12 lakh tonnes more than last year’s. From the information I got from the field, I see that the farmers have got a good yield, and they are happy.”

“The price of paddy is also good. Our goal has been achieved,” the minister said.

The total production of the irrigation-based crop may go past two crore tonnes during this year’s harvest, up from the previous year’s 1.96 crore tonnes estimated by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.

Boro paddy accounts for nearly 55 per cent of annual rice production.

The USDA said weather conditions would be important to monitor.

“Farmers were late to plant this year’s Boro rice crop, so the upcoming monsoon season could dramatically impact this year’s harvest.”

The US agency said Boro rice production might decline by 1.5 per cent year-on-year to 1.90 crore tonnes in the current harvesting season because of the recent heatwave and pest attacks.

As a result of the heat, key industry contacts believe it may be difficult for Bangladesh to achieve the target of producing 2.05 crore tonnes of this grain this year, it added. 


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