The ongoing diesel crisis in the peak boro season could cause a production shortfall of over 1.8 million tonnes, report agencies.
The crisis may affect the gross domestic product (GDP) as Bangladesh Bank forecasts a GDP growth in the range of 6.3-6.8 per cent for the current fiscal year expecting major contributions from the agriculture sector.
It sets agriculture sector growth at 3.8-4.3 per cent in 2005-06, with a significant contribution coming from crop sub-sector.
In a growth outlook earlier, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) also projected that Bangladesh would be able to achieve the fiscal year's growth target on agriculture output along with other indicators.
Farmers have been forced to buy the motor fuel at higher prices ranging between Tk 4 and Tk 8 per liter to avert the possible production losses. They would have to count an extra cost of Tk 183 per hectare in only seven days.
The apprehension about the crop loss has been made on the basis of a seven-day delay in transplantation of boro seedlings as per the views of the field supervisors of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE).
They said transplantation of the seedlings is being delayed by at least one week this season if the situation becomes normal in 72 hours as the Energy Adviser claimed Saturday. He held out the assurance after a meeting called for taking a crash action to cushion the crunch facing the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) in footing the bill on rising petroleum imports.
Scientifically, a single day's delay in transplantation of 28-day-old seedlings results in a production loss of 63 kg per hectare. The country imports food-grain at an average price of US$ 300 per tonne.
About 4.225 million hectares of land comes under the dry-season irrigated paddy cultivation for production of 15 million tonnes of boro, said a senior official in the Ministry of Agriculture Monday.
As per the estimate, the total average production of boro would decline by over 12 per cent due to the supply crisis of fuel oil.
According to MOA, 86 per cent of the total irrigation pumps used for boro production are diesel-operated, which was estimated to consume diesel worth Tk 23.49 billion at Tk 30 per litre during the farming season.
But the supply disruption would cost an additional amount of over Tk 780 million this season.
"It would badly affect the projection of a good boro harvest this season and thus the GDP target for the current fiscal year," said an official in the MOA.
However, the sufferings of Boro farmers of Chapainawabganj district know no bounds due to acute crisis of diesel.
Sources said the prices of diesel, petrol and kerosene increased significantly due to short supply.
Local farmers, who have also been waiting for diesel in long queue, said that they could not irrigate their fields due to the fuel.
They alleged a section of unscrupulous traders have been smuggling out diesel to India through different points of border areas including Ujirpur, Tarapur, Thutapara, Bagaluri, Jaminpur, Shibnagar and Manohorpur.
Azizul Islam of Enamul Haque Filling Station at Sadar upazila said that the diesel crisis was created due to inadequate fuel supply from the Baghabari depot.