Thousands of farmers in haor areas of Netrakona are worried over a timely harvesting of advanced Boro paddy because of a shortage in labourers.
The nationwide shutdown due to the global coronavirus pandemic has created a crisis in workers for paddy harvesting in 10 upazilas of the district.
Farmers said they are uncertain whether labourers from other districts will be able to come to Netrakona this year because of the shutdown.
Farmers in Netrakona haor areas have to rely on workers from different districts, including Mymensingh, Tangail, Jamalpur, Pabna, Sirajganj and northern part of the country, to harvest their paddy.
Shafiqul Islam Talukder, a farmer from Purnahati village in Khaliajuri, said that without labourers from outside Netrakona, it would not be possible to harvest the paddy in time.
Anju Mia, a farmer in Jagannathpur, said that due to the stop of communication, he was still unable to contact outside workers.
Rahis Uddin, a farmer from Bolli village, said that, after a few days, rain and floodwater from upstream will start coming. "So, if we cannot harvest the paddy timely, we will have to risk our advance crop."
According to the Department of Agricultural Extension, Boro paddy has been cultivated in 1.84 lakh hectares of land in 10 upazilas of Netrokona this season. Of these, nearly 41,000 hectares are in haor areas under Khaliajuri, Mohanganj, Madan, Kalmakanda and Atapara upazilas.
Due to the previous few years' experience of flood, farmers in the haor areas have mostly cultivated advanced varieties of Boro paddy. The only purpose is to harvest the paddy before the flooding. All these paddy in almost all the fields has started ripening.
Local farmers also said, after only a week, they will start harvesting the paddy. After two weeks, the Baishakhi Nabanna festival in haor areas will start in full swing.
Admitting the workers' crisis, Khaliajuri Upazila Agriculture Officer Habibur Rahman said labourers from outside Netrakona have been advised to bring certificates from their respective agriculture offices so that they are not barred on roads.
Deputy Commissioner Moyeenul Islam said, "In this situation, we are emphasising modern harvesting of paddy. There are 82 old harvesting machines available to farmers in different areas. We will distribute 42 more machines."
He added that the paddy can be easily harvested with the help of those machines. Agriculture department's field officials have also been directed to coordinate the harvesting with these machines quickly.
However, many people related to agriculture say that only 124 machines are very inadequate against 1.84 lakh hectares of land.
Deputy Director of the Department of Agricultural Extension, Habibur Rahman, said that the target for the production of 1,119,561 tonnes of paddy have been estimated in the district this year. Of these, it has a target of 250,350 tonnes of paddy in the haor areas.