Implications of declining government support for aus rice productionM. A. Sobhan || Monday 24 March 2014 ||
Rice production in Bangladesh is a crucial part of the national economy. The main food crop of the country is rice. Rice cultivation covers about 80 percent of cultivable land and production varies according to seasonal change based on water supply. The largest rice crop is aman, accounting for more than half of annual production. Some traditional varieties of aman rice are sown broadcast in spring on low land. The plants thrive in summer and rainy seasons. The matured crop is harvested in late autumn. The other group of aman rice varieties is grown by raising seedlings in seed bed in summer. The seedlings are transplanted in the main field in the rainy season. The mature rice is harvested in late autumn.
Due to increased use of irrigation through extraction of underground water, there has been a growing thrust on boro rice season extending during October to March.
Aus rice has been mainly a traditional culture, sown generally broadcast in March-April , availing the pre-monsoon shower and is harvested during the summer.
The recent trend of growing more boro rice with irrigation from extraction of under-ground water, indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizer, pesticide, mainly at the cost of reducing acreage of rain fed aus rice leads to adverse impact on environment, human health and cropping system in the country.
Not only the cultivation of aus rice has been declining but also the acreage and production of rabi crops like pulses, oil seed, vegetables fruits, sweet potato , spices etc. have also been reducing . Traditionally in kharif-1 season aus rice/ jute would be grown in such land after the harvest of rabi crops. Such land now remains vacant for3-4 months after the harvest of boro rice and before transplanting aman rice, although there is suitable condition for growing rain fed aus rice.
The acreage of aus rice cultivation has been reducing since the introduction of irrigated boro rice cultivation in mid sixties of the last century. Consequently many of the local varieties of aus rice is already lost from the area. It is disheartening that the Government support for aus rice production this year has been reduced (the Prothom Alo ,11 March 2014).
Not only the cultivation of aus rice has been declining but also the acreage and production of rabi crops like pulses, oil seeds, vegetables, fruits, sweet potato, spices etc have also been reducing. Traditionally in Kharif-1 season aus rice/jute would be grown in such land after the harvest of rabi crops . Such land now remains vacant for 3-4 months after the harvest of boro rice and before transplanting aman rice seedlings even there is suitable condition for cultivation of rain fed aus rice. It is worth mentioning that the acreage of aus rice has been reducing since the introduction of irrigated boro rice cultivation in mid sixties of the last century. Consequently, many of the local varieties of aus rice have been eroded from the locality.
It is disheartening that Government support for aus rice production has been reduced (the Prothom Alo, 11 March 2014). This year, both the amount of allocation and the number of beneficiary have been reduced. Support for production of aus rice will be offered to only 2,44,600 farmers in 44 districts. Last year this support was given among 3,32,500 farmers in47 districts. That means there has been a significant reduction of 87,900 farmers.
According to the report of the Ministry of Agriculture, a sum of BDT 306,800,000 has been allocated for supporting farmers for aus rice production in 2014. In 2013the allocation was BDT 430,900,000. In terms of fund allocation there has been a reduction of BDT 13ooooooo.
In the interest of maintaining genetic variability of aus rice , crop genetic resources, environment, food sovereignty and human health ,increased support for cultivation of indigenous varieties of aus rice deserves attention for increment of allocation.