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Promoting less-water consuming crops in Barind area stressed

RAJSHAHI, Jan 7, 2017 (BSS) - More importance should be given on promotion of less-irrigation consuming cereal crops instead of depending on only Irri-boro farming in Barind area to lessen the gradually mounting pressure on ground water table.

"Substantial and sustainable promotion of less-water consuming crops could be the effective means of achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through mitigating water-stress condition in the drought-prone Barind area," said Abul Kalam Azad, Chief Coordinator (SDG) of Prime Minister's Office.

He was addressing a discussion meeting titled "SDGs Action Towards 2030" at conference hall of Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA), here Friday as chief guest. BMDA hosted the meeting in the light of Vision 2021- Digital Bangladesh, Annual Performance Agreement and SDGs Aligning with Agriculture Sector of 7th Five Year Plan.

With BMDA Chairman Dr Aram Hossain Chowdhury in the chair, Member (General Economic Division) of Planning Commission Prof Dr Shamsul Alam, Additional Commissioners of Rajshahi division Munir Hossain and Aminul Islam, Director General of Rural Development Academy Abdul Matin and BMDA Executive Director Abdur Rashid also spoke.

Abul Kalam Azad referred to various research findings and mentioned that there are enormous scopes of expanding acreage of various low-water consuming crops like wheat, black gram, sesame, lentil, maize and mugdal in the high barind tract.

Wheat could be cultivated on seven to eight bighas of land with same amount of irrigation-water needed to irrigate one bigha of Boro rice through soil moisture utilisation and the best uses of the modern technologies.

Wheat plays an important role to ensure food security as its consumption is increasing day by day. But, Bangladesh produces hardly 10 lakh tonnes of wheat against the demand of around 40 lakh tonnes annually.

All the authorities concerned and farmers should come forward and work together to this end. Farmers in the Hard Barind area comprising Rajshahi, Naogaon and Chapainwabgonj districts need time-fitting training and motivation on how to cultivate more less-irrigated crops to lessen the existing pressure on ground water.

He viewed there is no alternative to encourage the farmers to promote various cereal crops and vegetables instead of only Irri-boro paddy on the dried land to remove the water stress condition as its groundwater table has gradually been declining.

In his remarks, Dr Akram Chowdhury said the BMDA has a significant contribution in making the Barind area multiple cropping at present instead of single one through providing irrigation.

But, time has come to reduce the farming of Irri-boro paddy through promoting the less-water consuming wheat, maize, pulses, oilseed and spices. "We have to change the mandate of BMDA", he added.

Dr Chowdhury viewed there is no alternative to encourage the farmers to promote various cereal crops and vegetables on the dried land to face the water stress condition as its ground water table has gradually been declining.