GAIBANDHA, Sept 19: Farmers of flood affected areas of the district emphasised farming flood-tolerant varieties in large scale from the next season to avoid damage of the T-Aman paddy from submergence.
If farmers cultivate the flood-tolerant varieties like BINA 11 and BINA 12 and BRRI Dhan 51 and BRRI Dhan 52 on their low land, they will be economically benefited getting desired output, experts opined.
The farmers informed about flood tolerant variety and its farming to the correspondent while visiting flood-prone areas in Shaghata upazila in the district very recently. They were motivated by the officials of RDRS, an NGO, to cultivate these varieties.
According to sources, thousands of hectares of T-Aman paddy land lying on the chars and the Brahmaputra and the Teesta River basin of Sundarganj, Sadar, Fulchhari and Shaghata upazilas, go under flood water every year.
As the T-Aman paddy cannot withhold flood water for few days, the seedlings are damaged which create uncertainty over food security among the growers side by side with incurring economic losses.
In order to avoid the losses and to help achieve the country's food security the agriculture scientists innovated flood tolerant varieties like BINA 11 and BINA 12 and BRRI Dhan 51 and BRRI Dhan 52 that were released by the government in 2010 and later.
Over four years elapsed; no initiatives were taken by the Ministry of Agriculture and department of agriculture extension (DAE) to expand its cultivation in farmers' level in flood prone areas of the district despite getting desired production.
Only RDRS Bangladesh, a reputed NGO, has been working in the upazilas for few years last in limited form aimed at popularising the varieties to farmers of flood affected areas in the district under IRRI (International Rice Research Institute)-STRASA (Stress Tolerant Rice for Poor Farmers in Africa and South Asia) project funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation of the USA, office sources said.
Though RDRS Bangladesh established a total of 270 demonstration plots of submergence tolerance varieties in the district this year like the previous year to motivate the farmers still it was not sufficient compared to the requirement.
The seedlings of the flood tolerant varieties in all the demonstration plots survived a two week-long submergence from August 16 to September 3, said technical officer (Agriculture) of RDRS Bangladesh Saiful Islam.
Shovanal Chandra, a farmer of Sangkibhanga area under Shaghata upazila, said he farmed BINA 11 variety on 33 decimals of land on July 31, 2014 being inspired by the field level officials of RDRS Bangladesh.
After few days, the transplanted seedlings survived a 19-day submergence but all the seedlings were well and healthy, he said adding that the seedling of other varieties like BRRI 11 had been damaged fully.
Another farmer of the area M. Shafiqul Islam Shafi said all the growers here had been astonished to see the healthy and fresh seedlings which remained under flood water for over two weeks.
Like Shovanal and Shafi, Rafiqul, Jamal and Kazal who cultivated flood tolerant varieties in the area this year are pleased and expecting desired yield.
Principal scientific officer and head of BRRI Rangpur Dr. M. Shahidul Islam said as the seedlings of other Aman varieties are damaged every year due to flood, the farming of flood tolerant varieties and its expansion is urgently needed to avoid loss.
The government should take immediate step to expand the farming of flood tolerant varieties in large scale considering the greater interest of the farmers of flood prone areas of the upazilas, he said.
Deputy Director of Gaibandha DAE Mir Abdur Razzak said as flood damages crops of most varieties so the farming of flood tolerant varieties is now a crying need.
However, farmers of flood prone areas urged the Ministry of Agriculture to take extensive programme to farm flood tolerant varieties here from the next seasons and survive the food security of the district and the country as a whole.