Dhaka, Jan 12 (UNB/IPS) - Farmers across the country are misusing some 800 liters of water in producing each kilogram of paddy. Even though it is possible to produce 1 kg of paddy using 2,500 liters of water, currently they are using 3,300 liters for the same only for lack of awareness of certain techniques that can reduce the amount of water needed as input.
Nasiruzzaman, secretary in-charge of Bangladesh’s Ministry of Agriculture, told UNB how farmers in the past used 5,000 liters of water for producing one kg of paddy, and now that has come down to 3,300 liters.
“A farmer has to pay a fixed amount to deep tube-well (used as water source) owner for irrigating a certain size of paddy field for a full season. As a result, there is no incentive for him to save on irrigation as he has to pay the full amount. This is how he misuses the water,” Nasiruzzaman said.
The farmers irrigate their arable land from tube-wells installed by Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) and Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA), and private tube-wells. There are over 36,000 deep tube-wells, nearly 1.4 million shallow ones, and over 1.6 million hydraulic machines under the state and private sector.
Farmers typically cultivate 8.4 million hectares of land, that includes 4.7 million hectares for the Boro (season for rice crop) variety, 1.1 million hectares for Aus (season for rice crop) 5.5 million hectares for Aman (season for rice crop) and the rest for wheat cultivation.
Farmers produce 19.5 million metric tons of rice a year - which means billions of liters of water is wasted every year.
According to a survey conducted by the BADC recently, farmers are using 75 percent of groundwater while 25 percent from surface. It was only 20 percent for groundwater while 80 percent from surface water in 1960-70.
“The agriculture department is going to implement an initiative to reduce the groundwater use by 60 percent within 2030. If farmers’ misuse of water keeps rising, the layer of underground water will go down further. So, we’ve to make the farmers aware through awareness campaign from the field level, to reduce the use of water in their cultivation,” Nasiruzzaman said.
With a view to reducing the misuse of water in agriculture, the Agriculture Department has defined 5 ways, according to the secretary: Quality Dry and Quite (AWD), which will help check for water in the soil beneath the plants; setting up prepaid system in every deep tube-well; setting up pipeline 3 feet below the surface; ‘dream irrigation method’ whereby water can only be applied at the roots of a plant (only applicable for some fruit varieties); and sprinkler irrigation for flower gardens that deliver water from above, he said.
Former Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury said, “Plenty of water is being wasted in cultivation sector across the country every year. We’ve taken a number of projects to reduce the misuse of water.”
Farmers have no idea about the misuse of water that is why they use more water than their needs. The misuse of water causes financial loss as well as the underground water level to go down day by day. Farmers and deep tube-well owners will be made aware of the waste they are causing through campaign, the minister added.
Chief Engineer of the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation Lutfor Rahman said from 100 liters water, farmers use 35 percent for required irrigation and misuse the rest 65 percent. At present, the amount of lifted water is 70 Billion Cubic Meters (BCM) for cultivation.
Of them, about 50 BCM water is lifted from underground and 20 BCM from surface whereas 32.50 percent water misuse from underground water and 13 percent from surface, the engineer informed.
Jahangir Alam, an agriculture economist, agreed that farmers across the country are misusing water as they have no idea about it.
The government should appoint agricultural engineers, agricultural economists and farm economists to create mass awareness through campaigns at the grassroots level, Alam added.
Note: This story is jointly produced by United News of Bangladesh (UNB) and Inter Press Service (IPS).
Dhaka, Jan 11 (UNB) – Dr Kamal Hossain’s Gano Forum is now planning to mount pressure on BNP to sever its ties with Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami to keep the Jatiya Oikyafront intact and launch a movement together with like-minded parties demanding a fresh national election.
Talking to UNB, some Gano Forum leaders have said they want to strengthen the Jatiya Oikyafront in such a way so that no one can malign the alliance for Jamaat and BNP acting Chairman Tarique Rahman.
They also said some left and right parties are contacting them to join the newly launched coalition, but they are giving a condition that BNP must part its ways with Jamaat.
The Gano Forum leaders also said they think their two MPs and BNP’s six should join parliament since they won their respective seats fairly ‘unlike many others’.
Under the circumstances, Gano Forum central committee is going to sit in a crucial meeting on Saturday to assess the December-30 national election and decide the future of its alliance with BNP.
The meeting that will begin at 10am at the party’s Arambagh central office will also work out the party’s next course of action, Gano forum media wing member Latiful Bari Hamim told UNB on Friday.
Party President Dr Kamal Hossain will preside over the meeting and hold a press briefing at 4pm.
Contacted, party central committee member Amin Afsari said they will take various important decisions at the meeting about the future of their party’s alliance with BNP and some other parties and their future action plans.
He said they will also discuss whether Jatiya Oikyafront can be strengthened through involving some other left and democratic parties.
Afsari also said their party may seek opinions of their central committee members whether their party’s two elected MPs should take oath or not.
Party training affairs secretary Rafiqul Islam Pathik said their meeting will evaluate the just-held national election and take decision to strengthen their party’s organisational capability to launch an anti-government movement.
About Oikyafront, he said some parties, including both the left and right ones, are eager to join the coalition to wage a movement demanding a fresh national election.
At Saturday’s meeting, Pathik said, they will take some decisions about how they can extend the alliance and make it stronger further. “Most of our leaders want to keep the alliance with BNP intact, but it must leave Jamaat for that.”
A Gano Forum presidium member, wishing anonymity, said their central committee may decide to sever ties with BNP if it does not leave Jamaat. “We may take decision that if BNP wants to keep the unity with Gano Forum unharmed, Tarique Rahman can’t interfere in any matter of Oikyafront and his party must come up with an announcement to drop Jamaat from its alliance.”
He said if BNP does not accept their decision, they may try to reshape Oikyafront with other like-minded parties.
The Gano Forum leader said most of their grassroots leaders want their party’s two MPs to join parliament. “Our central committee meeting will discuss the issue with serious importance. I think our MPs will finally take oath as it’s a great scope for us to have representation in parliament for the first time.”
He said their leaders think though the election was not acceptable in many constituencies, their two MPs and six of BNP came out successful fairly through competition. “So, why should our legal MPs not take oath? We believe if eight Oikyafront MPs join parliament, they’ll be able to play a positive role in favour of people and our demand for reelection.”
Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, Gonoshasthya Kendra founder who played a vital role in forming the Jatiya Oikyafront, said BNP should leave Jamaat in the interests of its own as well as Oikyafront.
He said BNP should now first boost its organisational strength to stage a comeback alongside making its ties with Oikyafront alliance partners stronger further.
Dhaka, Jan 11 (UNB) – The government is informing people about the life and career of Bangladesh’s founding father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Dhaka International Trade Fair.
A pavilion, ‘Bangabandhu Bangladesh’, is showcasing 139 photos, depicting his journey from childhood to becoming the nation’s independence hero.
Bangabandhu was born in Gopalganj’s Tungipara on March 17, 1920. January 10 marks his Homecoming Day, when he returned to independent Bangladesh in 1972, after 290 days of captivity in Pakistan.
Videos and various newspaper articles before and during his tenure in office on issues, including international agreements, Liberation War and his time in prison, are also being showcased.
“The videos are meant to help everyone learn about Bangabandhu’s story,” Murshidel Hoque, in-charge of the pavilion, told UNB.
There were some books at the pavilion as well – and only a selected few were on sale.
Apart from them, photos highlighting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s development activities have been put up outside the pavilion, which can be found on the right side after entering through the fair’s main gate.
Visitors lauded the initiative. “It helps children learn about the country’s history, the Liberation War and our greatest political leader,” said Talib Hossain, who was visiting the fair with his sister and his two sons.
Mohammad Saifuzzaman, a university student, said he learned some new things. “We don’t know much about Bangabandhu yet. He was a great leader and an honest person. Such exhibition will help us know more,” he said.
For the first time, visitors are getting online ticketing advantage. An adult’s ticket costs Tk 30 and a child’s Tk 20. One has to pay an extra Tk 2.3 as online purchase charge.
Imran Mahmud Shamim, CEO of Vallicon digital software firm, said they started the online ticketing service to reduce hassles.
Deputy Secretary of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) Mohammad Abdur Rouf told UNB they had prepared an online ticketing system in 2017.
“We tried to launch it earlier but failed. We hope visitors won’t have any problem in purchasing tickets this time,” he said.
EPB and Commerce Ministry have jointly organised the month-long annual fair.
Dhaka, Jan 11 (UNB) –The Power Division is now waiting for a positive note from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) about its financing to implement a 50MW floating solar project in the Kaptai Lake, official sources said.
“We’ve heard the executive board of the donor agency [ADB] has approved a financing proposal in this regard. But, the government will move for feasibility study of the project once it receives the official letter from the ADB on the issue,” said Mohammad Alauddin, joint secretary (renewable energy) to the Power Division.
As per the primary plan, official sources said, a 50MW floating solar project will be implemented on a pilot basis in the Kaptai Lake in the Chattagram Hill Tract area spending Tk 400-500 crore.
They said if the Kaptai Lake solar project is proved to be a successful one, then more similar projects will be implemented both in public and private sectors.
Besides, the government is considering implementation of another 30MW floating solar project in the canal of the Teesta Water Barrage area, they mentioned.
According to the official sources, the recent success of Japan, China, India, Germany, France, China and other countries in floating solar projects prompted the Power Division under the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources (MPEMR) to move for such green projects.
Japan was the first country to install a floating solar power plant in 2006 in Chiba by a French firm while China is now the leader in setting up the largest floating solar power plant of 40MW capacity in Huainan city of its Anhui province.
So far, the officials said, a good number of floating solar power plants have been set up in 12 countries and the idea is gaining popularity because of land scarcity for setting up solar plants.
Solar projects require huge land and Bangladesh’s main barrier is the land scarcity to setting up solar projects.
Among the Asian nations, India and China have taken up aggressive moves to set up floating solar plants.
Mohammad Alauddin informed that installing floating solar projects might be a very suitable concept for Bangladesh as it faces land scarcity problem for implementing solar scheme.
The Power Division senior official said state-owned Power Development Board (PDB) will implement the proposed Kaptai Lake floating solar project.
The Kaptai Lake was created through embankment to supply water to the Karnaphuli hydropower project, and the huge water body is now only being used for small scale fisheries.
“The Kaptai Lake was chosen because of its availability of water throughout the year. Electricity evacuation will be easier because of a ready infrastructure in the Karnaphuli Hydropower project”, Alauddin told UNB.
He said the irrigation canal of Teesta Barrage might be another perfect place for floating solar power plant as a 30MW plant could be installed on it.
But all will depend on the opinion of the Water Development Board (WDB), which now owns and operates the project, he said adding that the Power Division will pursue the idea with the organisation through its line ministry.
“If they agree, then the Power Division will move forward with the project for implementation through private sector entrepreneurs who are interested to invest in such projects,” he said.
The Teesta Barrage is located on the Teesta River at Duani in Hatibandha upazila in Lalmonirhat district of Bangladesh the discharge capacity of which is 12,750 cusec of water.
Power Division officials said the move for allowing IPP solar plants has been part of the government's plan to generate 24,000MW of electricity by 2021, the sources added.
A special emphasis has been given to power production from non-conventional sources. It aims to increase the total solar power production by 10 percent by 2020 (meaning 2,000MW). The total solar power production in Bangladesh has not crossed 250 MW yet.
Dhaka, Jan 10 (UNB) - Amid the chilly atmosphere of winter, a gracious perk of the season is the galore of pithas sold and enjoyed by many in city streets. It is somewhat of homage to the glorious taste of our rural treats.
Since the beginning of the winter, makeshift pitha shops have sprung all over the Dhaka city where Bhapa and Chitoi pithas are sold aplenty, while other wintry delights such as Patishapta, and Pakon pitha can be found, too.
Street-side pitha sellers who constantly keep making different types of pitha (cakes) are seen in city’s key areas including Shahbagh, TSC, Paltan, Kakrail, Malibagh, Gulistan and even in the alleyways of other localities.
These treats mostly start selling from the afternoon while the majority takers are seen blooming after the dusk.
Nahid, a student of a public university, said every winter he rejoices the taste of pithas from such shops with friends at night. “It reminds me of my native home and childhood memories often,” he added.
Not only the consumers but also the sellers are happy to see the growing craving for pitha throughout the winter.
Sumon, owner of a pitha stall in Malibagh, said, “Eight pm is the prime time for me because customers mainly come in large numbers then. Cutting out all the expenses, I get to keep Tk 400-500 per night as profit.”
Moktar, another seller in Mouchak, said his income reached around Tk 2,500 every day by selling pithas.
Another important effect of the Pitha Culture in city streets is enjoying family times at evening.
Yunus Ahmed, a job holder, was seen eating pitha with his two daughters said after the office time it is a great hassle to spend time with family outside in recreation spots. “These shops are spread around my apartment building. I can take a stroll with my daughters and enjoy them as well,” he said.
Women from impoverished families earn livelihoods by selling pithas during the few months of winter.
Aklima, a pitha seller in Rampura, said the money she earns throughout the winter is a contribution to the family aside from her husband’s small income.
The prices of pithas vary from place to place. Chitoi pitha which is enjoyed with mustard and other spicy bharta (mashed spices) is priced at Tk 5 each while Bhapa is sold at Tk 10-20 depending on sizes. Other Pithas are priced at Tk 20-50.
Sheeter Pitha, a significant heritage of rural Bangladesh being a signature of our countryside, has transitioned into the city lifestyle.
While nothing can match the first encounter with the taste of Bhapa in native home, these stalls and pithas sold there resonate the tradition of Bangla.