Amid scorching heat and drought in July, Golam Muktadir, a farmer from Dhupchanchia upazila in Bogura, decided not to cultivate Aman paddy this year but continuous rain from the beginning of August has made Muktadir change his decision.
"Like many others in the area, I initially decided not to cultivate Aman this year. But due to the rain, I changed my decision and have already planted rice on four bighas of land," Muktadir told The Business Standard.
Like Muktadir, farmers across the country have been encouraged to rapidly transplant Aman paddy, thanks to sufficient rainfall over the past couple of weeks.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Agricultural Extension, as of 14 August, Aman rice transplantation has been completed on 58.84% of the targeted land. This marks a substantial increase from a mere 12.82% on 25 July. Within just 20 days, 46% of the target area has been replanted.
The government set a target of cultivating Aman rice on 59.33 lakh hectares of land this year, hoping to produce around 4.6 crore tonnes of rice in this second-largest rice production season, which is dependent on rainfall, if there are no major natural disasters.
Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture told TBS that the description of field conditions that they have received indicates that Aman cultivation has exceeded the target of around 70% of the land. In various districts, including Rajshahi, Dinajpur, Bogura, Rangpur, Sirajganj and Mymensingh, Aman cultivation has rapidly increased.
Due to the intense rainfall, temperature and floods last month, many farmers had decided not to cultivate Aman rice, according to officials.
On the other hand, many others had planted Aman despite using water pumps for irrigation. However, the pace of irrigating Aman cultivation through water pumps was quite slow.
According to information from relevant government departments related to agriculture, during the rainy season, 61% of rice farmers depend directly on rainfall for cultivation. Those farmers who had agreements with irrigation pumps or had already planted rice through irrigation now have reduced dependence on irrigation thanks to the sufficient rainfall of late. But they have already faced some increased expenses.
Abu Sayeed, a farmer from Dhunat upazila, mentioned that if there had been adequate rain in July, there would have been no need to reach agreements on irrigation pumps. Nevertheless, the increase in rainfall will be beneficial for rice growth, he added.
The Ministry of Agriculture hopes the Aman cultivation might surpass the target this season due to continuous rainfall.
The effects of continuous rainfall on Aman cultivation over the past two weeks can be illustrated through the example of Bogura district.
Citing the Bogura Regional Agricultural Office, TBS Bogura Correspondent Khorshed Alam reported that five years ago, Aman cultivation covered 173,448 hectares in the district, and this time, the target area is 183,500 hectares. Already, 161,000 hectares of land, or 88% of the target, have come under Anan cultivation in the district this year, and most of this was done in the past two weeks.
As per the Bogura District Meteorological Department, the rainfall pattern before Aman was 758 millimeters in June-July 2019. In 2023, the same months saw 275 millimeters of rainfall. However, the usual requirement for those two months is 750 millimeters.
On the contrary, while August's normal rainfall should be around 285 millimetres, Bogura has received 436 millimeters of rainfall in the first 15 days of the month this year.
Rabindrashri Barua of the agriculture ministry mentioned that due to the rain, Aman transplantation is happening quickly. "Though some farmers began planting with alternative irrigation, many waited for rain. In around 70% of the target area, rice transplantation has been completed."
In the three Chattogram Hill Tracts districts, however, excessive rainfall and flooding have caused damage of Tk383 crore to crops, affecting over 71,000 farmers. The loss includes crops like Aush rice, Aman rice, ginger, turmeric and vegetables, on 12,800 hectares of land.
The ministry has instructed agricultural officers in affected districts to ensure the supply of seedlings from neighbouring districts, as excess seedlings are available in those places. For example, Feni and Cumilla have surplus seedlings.
Last year also, there was a widespread impact of a severe drought during the Aman season. As a result, around 5-6 lakh irrigation pumps were being initially used for Aman cultivation all over the country. Despite initial concerns, the heavy rainfall for two to three days throughout the country at the last moment caused the Aman cultivation to exceed the target set for the season.