Watermelon fields face irrigation crisis at Dacope
DACOPE, KHULNA, Apr 8: Maturing watermelon fields in Dacope Upazila of the district have been in dying condition due to water crisis.
According to field sources, the irrigation is being hampered seriously for want of water in canals, marshes, ponds, and rivers in the upazila. Most of these water sources have almost turned dried.
Frustrated farmers said, they have been directionless as their standing fields are being hit by worse drought.
According to sources at the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), this year's watermelon cultivation has been double in Dacope, compared to the last year's.
In the last year, one Pourasabha, a total of 1,535 hectares (ha) of land was brought under watermelon in nine unions and one Pourasabha of the upazila. This year watermelon has been cultivated on 3,407 ha. But the brightly growing fields cannot be irrigated properly.
A number of farmers said, they get highest profits from watermelon during the Rabi season after their main crop Aman.
According to them, per bigha watermelon cultivation cost stands at Tk 12,000 to 14,000, counting from seed sowing to harvesting; and the sale stands at Tk 30,000 to 1.20 lakh per bigha. The watermelon cultivation is increasing day by day; getting good profits farmers are bringing new areas under the watermelon cultivation.
A visit to different areas in the upazila found most of the watermelon fields have grown up enough; flowers and fruits have started appearing. In some fields matured watermelons were also seen.
In maximum fields, both men and women were seen busy rearing activities including applying fertiliser and spraying insecticide.
Farmer Ranjit Kumar Ray at Purbo Bajua area said, he has cultivated watermelon on 13 bighas this year; at first he dug small wells for irrigation; these wells have now dried up; but his field has just started to give flower and fruit; to save his field he is irrigating from Bajua Canal through pipe; but the canal water is also at the finishing level due to drought.
If there is no rain in the next few days, he cannot continue irrigation, he maintained.
Ranjit has cultivated watermelon taking loan. If his production is hampered, he has to count loss, and there will remain no option for him to survive. He is already indebted.
He was echoed by Falguni Haldar at Pankhali area. He said, he has cultivated watermelon on five bighas with loan money at a cost of about Tk 70,000. He could have irrigated his field properly at the first time; but now it is hampered; at present, his pond has almost dried up; so he is irrigating his field very thinly from the pond; and already some plants have died getting no water.
"I have to count loss if the irrigation cannot be continued properly", he maintained.
He mentioned, several watermelon fields in neighbouring areas have been completely destroyed after being submerged by salty water; the salty water entered locality when the WAPDA embankment along the Khalisa sluice gate was embedded by the Kazibacha River.
Upazila Senior Agriculture Officer Mehedi Hasan Khan said, canals and marshes of the field have become filled with fertility causing the water crisis; the water shortage has also been for a long time of no-raining; and farmers cannot use the river water because of salinity.
If there is no rain in the next several days, irrigating the watermelon fields will take a serious turn, he warned.
He said, he has sent a proposal to the BADC for digging 102 canals; already 14 kilometres of canal have been dug in Kamarkhola area; and, in other areas, canal digging is being hampered because of local problems, he mentioned.
He thinks, if all the canals are dredged, irrigation crisis will be solved.