JOYPURHAT, Jan 07: Farmers in the northern districts are worried as bone chilling cold is affecting Boro seedbeds this season.
Meanwhile, seedbeds have been infected with various plant diseases across the region this winter.
In many areas, Boro seedlings are dying.
The farmers in both Bogura and Rajshahi agriculture zone are also in the same situation.
Boro farmers are not optimistic even after covering the seedbeds with polythene or spraying pesticides on the seedlings.
According to Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) sources the target of Boro paddy cultivation has been set in the division for this year at over 2.0 million hectares of land.
Jalal Uddin, a farmer of Joypurhat district, said that he has grown seedling on five decimals of land aiming to cultivate some 12 bighas of land. Due to the cold and fog of the past few days, the saplings are fading away.
"According to the advice by DAE the farmers are spraying pesticide to get rid of the problem but there is no positive result at all," farmer Waliul Islam under Sirajanj district. "The seedlings were covered with polyethylene to protect the Boro seedlings all night", he added.
If the weather is not good, it will not be possible to cultivate Boro rice at the right time this year, the grower added.
Farmer Saiful Islam under Bogura district said, "Boro paddy cultivation is the only source of my living. If such weather prevails for some more days I won't be able to achieve the desired yield."
DD of DAE in Natore Subrata Kumar Sarker said such problems occur in winter. He suggested using right amount of urea or gypsum in the field.
Meanwhile, our correspondent from Netrakona writes: Boro cultivation has been severely disrupted in Durgapur upazila in the district for bone chilling cold.
A good number of growers said, "It is tough to work in the field now. Acute shortage of farm labourers is prevailing in the area."
Deputy Director of Netrakona DAE Habibur said the target of Boro cultivation in the upazila is 17,200 hectares of land. Yet half of the land has not yet been cultivated. The present weather is hampering the paddy cultivation.
Farmer Rafiqul Islam of Jagirpara village said if such weather prevails for another 15 days, the farming target may not be achieved this season.
"I did not able to transplant seedlings onto the 'main land' as yet. If the seedlings are not planted within a certain period of time, paddy production may face setback", he added.
UNB from Khulna adds: Low prices for crops in the previous season, the burden of loans and costly labour are discouraging an increasing number of farmers from growing Boro paddy this year.
Agricultural experts said farmers in the southern region are turning away for various reasons, including increased agriculture labour wages. This year, Khulna farmers did not buy 900 tonnes of Boro seed from BADC.
Locals said Aman paddy on 25,000 hectares and vegetables on 864 hectares of land were damaged during cyclone 'Bulbul'.
Besides, pest infestation damaged crops on several hundred acres in Rupsha, Botiaghata and Dumuria upazilas.
Farmers could not harvest anything but straws. Thousands of farmers were affected. Besides, they did not get fair prices for their produces in the Aman season.
Md Liaqat Ali, Deputy Director of Khulna BADC (Seed), said cyclones 'Fani' and 'Bulbul' caused massive damage to farmers.
"There was a high demand for hybrid variety of seeds. Besides, many farmers opted for onion due to the unexpected price hike," he said.
Sources at the agricultural office said 2,000 tonnes of seeds were allocated in the BADC's warehouse of Satkhira, Kaliganj and Bagerhat for the current season. These include BR-26, BR-28, BRI-29, BRI-47, BRI-58, BRI-63, BRI-67, BRI-74, BRI-81 and BRI-86 varieties of paddy.
A total of 405 dealers of Satkhira, Khulna and Bagerhat sold 1,171MT seeds in November and December. The demand for BRI-28 variety seed is high in Fakirhat, Mollahat, Chitolmari, Shoronkhola of Bagerhat, Dumuria, Paikgachha, Fultola, Terokhada of Khulna and Kolaroa, Tala and Ashashuni upazilas of Satkhira.
Lutfor Rahman Bachchu, a farmer of Patkelghhata area under Tala upazila of Satkhira, said they have suffered a huge loss as they did not get fair prices of Aman.
A Dumuria upazila agricultural official said there was much demand for BRI-28 variety boro seed. Farmers also purchased hybrid seeds of private companies.
"The high yield of BRI-28 last year encouraged farmers to choose the variety again," the official said, adding that Boro paddy was cultivated on 21,315 hectares in the upazila.
Keshob Kumar Sadhu, a dealer from Patkelghata, said the demand for government's Boro seed is low in Dhandia, Kumira, Kholishkhali, Shalikha and Mirzapur areas of the upazila. A large number of farmers are making seedbed with the hybrid seeds of private companies, sources added.