A record amount of land has been brought under Aman paddy cultivation this year, compared to last year, despite fear that the farmers may not be able to turn around after being hit hard by the pandemic and protracted floods.
Aman paddy has planted on 57.60 lakh hectares of land across the country till September 13, which is 96.97% of the target, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) and farmers.
Last year, farmers cultivated Aman on 55.71 lakh hectares.
This year's floods swept across the country in three phases and lasted for 49 days, sources at the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief said.
The floods caused a delay in Aman planting and a shortage of seedlings. This cast doubt over whether the farmers would miss the Aman planting season and the cultivation target.
DAE Director General Dr Mohammad Abdul Mueed told The Business Standard, "The target of Aman cultivation was raised this time so that there would be no food crisis amid the pandemic. But the prolonged flooding created uncertainty."
"However, we have overcome the situation. Although the cultivation target has not been met completely, Aman farming has broken records," he added.
Growers said the government supplied free fertilisers and seedlings in some flood-hit areas and this encouraged them.
However, farmers of some areas had to buy seedlings at higher prices, sources said.
Hafizur, a farmer from Jamalpur's Sarishabari, said, "I planted paddy as the floodwaters started to recede and thought it would be better to get some produce instead of keeping the land unused."
Mohammad Parvez of Tangail's Dhanbari said, "I prepared a seedbed, sold seedlings and also planted them on my land. Many were unable to prepare seedbeds. So, they bought seedlings and planted them."
Aman paddy farming was delayed for a month in the flood-hit areas this year. However, the planting of the paddy in the unaffected areas was already done.
Agriculture Secretary Md Nasiruzzaman said, "A good return from Boro cultivation and free fertilisers, seeds for Aman planting encouraged the farmers. So, there was good cultivation of Aman."
Drought hit Aman farming hard, but there has been good rainfall at a regular rate this year. So, the farmers are expecting good yields, the DAE officials said.
They cultivated the high-yielding Ufshi variety on 44.47 lakh hectares this year.
Further, hybrid varieties have been planted on 2.40 lakh hectares, local varieties on 7.15 lakh hectares and Bona Aman on 3.12 lakh hectares.
Also, there is no shortage of fertiliser. The stocks of urea, triple superphosphate (TSP), diammonium phosphate (DAP), muriate of potash (MOP) fertilisers are sufficient, according to the DAE.
However, flooding has damaged crops of around Tk1,000 crore this year, the agriculture ministry said.
The extra cultivation of Aman could help the farmers overcome the losses, DAE sources said.