Ridges across the country are taking up more than 10.78 lakh acres of arable land, on which at least 5.2 crores maunds of aman paddy can be cultivated, said a recent Rural Development Academy study.
The aman paddy, if cultivated on the unavailable arable land nearly the size of Mymensingh district, will be worth around Tk3,635 crore.
A ridge - known as ail in Bangla - is a demarcation line between agricultural plots.
The study, conducted in Bogura, also states that if farmers remove the ridges and use all of their farmlands for paddy cultivation, the yield could go up by more than 29 percent.
The elimination of ridges will also make the use of farm tools and equipment much easier, said the study.
Speaking to The Business Standard, Rural Development Academy's Director (Agriculture) Abdullah Al Mamun said, "Seven researchers cultivated aman paddy after removing 42 ridges on 9 acres of land in Chokpathalia village of Bogura.
"After three months, the harvested paddy yielded an additional four maunds of crop after cutting and threshing. Our research showed that the 13 decimal land trapped under 42 ridges yielded an additional eight maunds of paddy before threshing, which is an increase of more than 29 percent."
He continued, "The 42 farmers, who participated in the study, each saved Tk2,500 per bigha of land for cultivating paddy. They also harvested additional crop worth TK2,400 each."
The research project was titled, "Research on increasing the yield of farmlands through cooperation, automation and removal of ridges." The researchers said the project is the first of its kind in Bangladesh.
The removal of ridges also eased the process of sowing and harvesting paddy, said researchers and participators while discussing positive impacts of the project.
"Last year, I harvested 14 maunds of paddy in one bigha of land. But this year I harvested 18 maunds of paddy after removing the ridges. The cultivation cost me less than Tk5,000 this year, compared to Tk7,500 in the previous year," said Farmer Jahedur Rahman of the Chokpathalia village.
Another participant of the project, Ataur Rahman said, "I harvested 15 maunds of aman by spending around Tk7,500 in one bigha of land last year. This year I harvested 17 maunds of paddy on the same land.
"The biggest advantage of the project is that it saves time and eases the mobilisation of farm equipment. This increases both production and profit."
Responding to query, project team leader and Rural Development Academy's Director General Md Aminul Islam said, "There is a plan to expand the project across the country with support from the Department of Agricultural Extension and field-level staff.
"Compared to traditional methods of farming, automation in agriculture helps farmers make more profit, and decreases costs and labour."