Despite a possibility of bumper Boro yield, farmers in Barishal are worried about whether they will be able to harvest the paddy in time amid the coronavirus crisis.
Boro has been cultivated on nearly 9,450 acres of land at Agailjhara upazila in the district and the crop has started ripening. Farmers said they are expecting a bumper yield as the weather conditions were favourable and diseases did not affect the crop.
Farm worker shortage due to the virus-induced shutdown has put the paddy growers in a fix. They said that Boro could be ruined on the farmland if the crop is not harvested before rains and hailstorms begin.
Agailjhara farmer Mohammad Solaiman cultivated Boro on 10 acres of land this year. He said he was not finding farm workers to harvest the paddy.
"Rains and hailstorms will destroy the paddy if I fail to get the crop in by the next 10 to 12 days," he feared.
Solaiman said around 6,000-7,000 farm workers used to come to Barishal from Faridpur, Satkhira, Khulna, Bagerhat, Gopalganj, Madaripur, Pirojpur and Rajbari districts during Boro harvesting every year.
"But the workers cannot come this year as public transportations have been suspended," he said.
At Agailjhara, Boro is usually the main produce and the upazila contributes to the district food production with the highest paddy harvest every year.
The upazila agriculture officer, Nasir Uddin, said the rice production target for Agailjhara was 49,000 tonnes this year and the bumper harvest is likely to surpass the goal.
He said the government and the Department of Agricultural Extension have taken several measures to ease the farmers' worries over paddy harvesting.
"We have already brought 400 farm workers from southern districts, and arranged their food and accommodation. Besides, efforts are on to bring in more 2,500 agriculture workers to the upazila," said the agriculture officer.
He hoped that the worker shortage would dissolve soon.
Workers willing to harvest Boro in different parts of the country under government arrangements can collect necessary documents from their respective upazila agriculture offices.
Agailjhara agriculture office said it will only allow workers who have necessary papers, including health certificates. The workers will be sheltered in local educational institutions.
Apart from this, agriculture officers, police and the local upazila chairman have been instructed to ensure health safety of the Boro harvesting workers.
Nasir Uddin said Boro harvesting in the upazila will begin next week and farmers will hopefully get plenty of harvesting labourers.