The Agriculture Ministry has sought further subsidy on diesel price from the Finance Ministry to help farmers irrigate their lands at lower cost for aman rice production, hit by a lingering drought across the country.
The Agriculture Ministry recently sent the proposal for providing further subsidy on the fuel price to facilitate the farmers in running their pumps for irrigation, sources said.
Agriculturists fear the scanty shower during the current rainy season will make it difficult to achieve aman production target this year.
They further said any setback to the production of aman crop, the country's second largest one after 'boro', might bring down the overall cereal output in the current fiscal year.
According to Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) sources, the government this year fixed the aman production target at 12.20 million tonnes on 5.256 million hectares of land across the country. But so far around 1.4 million hectares of land have been brought under aman cultivation across the country, which is about one-fourth of the targetted area.
Meanwhile, frequent disruption of power and load-shedding; and high prices of diesel are making the irrigation activities difficult.
Besides, the farmers have to pay an additional Tk 20 to Tk 30 per bag of fertiliser at different places in the northern region, sources said.
This season, the farmers are paying increased diesel price by Tk 3.0 per litre to run their pumps for irrigation.
Agriculturists say the farmers, especially the marginal ones, will drop plan for aman cultivation due to higher prices of farm inputs this season.
The aman rice is cultivated mainly in the northern and north-western areas of the country. The northern zone is considered as the country's main rice growing area.
Sources in northern districts said that the farmers could not transplant the aman seedlings for poor rainfall over the last couple of months.
According to the met office, the country experienced some 38 per cent less rainfall on an average than the normal level during the last month. It also forecasts scanty rainfall in the coming days.
Terming the prevailing drought situation in the country's northern areas worse than many other areas, the Dhaka Met office said the Rajshahi division experienced the highest 58 per cent less rainfall than the normal level, followed by Chittagong region with 56 per cent.
"Usually, a variation of 10 per cent in monsoon rainfall is considered a normal phenomenon," a meteorologist in Dhaka Met office said.
The sources said as there was not enough rain over the past two months, thousands of hectares of land remained uncultivated. The farmers are not being able to prepare their lands for transplantation of aman seedlings due to scarcity of rains.
Besides, the aman seeds sowed on lowlands in the districts are not sprouting due to drought. The rich farmers are using shallow tubewells for irrigation, but the poor farmers are in trouble.
The DAE sources said that although there was shortage of water, the farmers were able to sow about 85 per cent of aman seed.