Farmers in the coastal district of Khulna are a worried lot because of something they had no control over -- drought.
With aridity delaying the Aman paddy cultivation process by nearly one-and-a-half months, the 80,000-plus farmers in the district fear that they may not be able to even recover the production cost this year.
According to the department of agricultural extension (DoAE), only 16,055 hectares of land have so far been cultivated with Aman paddy -- barely one-fifth of the targeted 93,070 hectares.
According to the weather department, almost four to five times less rainfall was recorded this year in Khulna as compared to last year.
In 2021, a total of 388.89 mm of rainfall was recorded in June, 506 mm in July and 213 mm in August.
But this year, 94.36 mm of rainfall was recorded in June, 91.27 mm in July, and 161.19 mm till August 23.
In the current season, 3,630 hectares of land in the district have been cultivated with Aush paddy, 1,316 hectares with jute, 35 hectares with tomato, 273 hectares with watermelon, 295 hectares with beans, and 8,265 hectares with winter vegetables.
Farmers say Aman paddy needs plenty of water. "I only know how I am managing water to irrigate my 10 bighas of land to keep the planted beans alive,” said Abu Hanif Morol, a farmer from Kharnia village of Dumuria upazila.
Farmers of Bamandia, Panchpota, Gonali, Bhadradia and Tipna villages are irrigating their Aman fields with water from the Bhadra river -- but channelising the river water is increasing their production costs.
Md Hafizur Rahman, deputy director of Khulna DoAE, said Aman is being cultivated with water from the river in Fultola, Terokhada, Rupsha, Batiaghata, Dumuria, Dighalia and Dakop upazilas.
"Meanwhile, in Paikgacha and Koira upazilas, farmers were unable to use the river water as it is still too saline," he said.
“Already 100% seedbeds for Aman have been prepared but the production will still be less than projected due to a drought-like situation, " said the Khulna DoAE official.
Lack of rainfall has slowed down the entire Aman cultivation process, said Paikgacha upazila agriculture officer, Jahangir Alam.
"Farmers have been advised to get in touch with the Rural Electrification Board."
Mizanur Rahman, deputy assistant agriculture officer of Dakop upazila, said apart from the delay in Aman cultivation, production of watermelons and vegetables has also been hit in Pankhali union.