Thursday, July 25, 2024

Power crisis, low groundwater levels raise farmers’ fears

Farmers in different parts of the country fear that severe power cuts and low groundwater level could hamper irrigation for boro farming.
They said scanty rainfall this year was responsible for low groundwater levels in parts of the country and that they would have to face acute irrigation problems from mid-March, the time when the groundwater levels are generally at their lowest.
Farmers say at present they have to endure between five and 18 hours’ power cuts a day and, at some places, they cannot extract as much water as they have in past years due to low ground water levels.
‘We have to experience up to 18 hours’ power outage everyday which will badly affect irrigation,’ said farmer Babul Mia of village Madhaikhal in Nageswari upazila of Kurigram district.
He said that due to lack of water, his cultivation period was lengthening which would result in the boro harvest starting late.
‘Most of the shallow tube wells are failing to provide water in our area due to low groundwater level and a good number of farmers have stopped boro farming for lack of adequate water’, said farmer SM Omed Ali of village Dhorkapon under Moulavibazar sadar upazila in northern Moulavibazar district.
Farmer Anwarul Kabir of village Bahadurpur under Jessore sadar upazila in southwestern Jessore district also said that their shallow pumps had been extracting less water and the problem might turn acute by mid-March.
Anwarul blamed low rainfall in the last monsoon for low groundwater levels.
The department of agriculture extension in Dhaka, have set a target to cultivate 48.50 lakh hectares of land for boro production this year and boro seedlings have already been planted on 53 per cent of the target area of land – which will use a total of 16,08,661 pumps, including 32,912 deep pumps, 1,425,136 shallow ones and 150,613 low lifting pumps, for irrigation.
Sources in Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation in Dhaka said they had used around 15.52 lakh pumps for irrigation last year but they were yet to receive information about how many pumps were now out of order in the fields.
The demand for electricity will exceed 6,500 megawatts by February due to irrigation, SSC examinations, cricket World Cup and the rise in temperature while the power division expects generation of 4,100 mw of power.
New Age correspondent in Kurigram reports that irrigation for boro farming is already being hampered badly in Kurigram and Lalmonirhat due to severe load shedding.
Kurigram-Lalmonirhat PBS official sources said they had 76,500 consumers, including, 10,662 for irrigation, and their daily demand was 35 magawatts in peak hours and 32 magawatts in off-peak hours, but they were getting around only eight mw in peak hours and five mw in off-peak hours.
KLPBS general manager Md Monjur-ur-Rashid claimed that power situation had improved and the load shedding would not be more than 14 hours.
BADC chief engineer (minor irrigation) Abul Kazem Mia, told New Age that the groundwater level was comparatively lower this year as the ground was recharged less due to lower levels of rainfall than in the past year.
At present, the irrigation of boro fields was not being hampered, but it might happen by mid-March, he said adding that they had sent letters to different areas to know about the number of pumps that were now out of order.

 

Via: New Age

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