Over 100,000 hectares of char land in country
Mahfuz Emran: The government has instructed to cultivate every inch of land so that there is no shortage of food in the country. The concerned departments are working according to these instructions. Various initiatives have been taken for this. The aim of these initiatives is to increase food production by bringing vast uncultivated lands under cultivation. At the same time reducing import dependence. As part of this, the government has taken a plan to increase crop production in fallen lands in the char areas of the country.
Concerned people say that there are about one lakh one thousand 692 hectares of low land in the char areas of the country. Crop density of these lands is 140% (if there is one crop in a land, its crop density is taken as 100%, as 140% grain density means one crop in that land and half of another crop). The government has taken initiative to bring these barren lands under cultivation.
If the plan is implemented, agriculture will be commercialized and women and young entrepreneurs will be formed. Through modern agricultural technology, improved crop varieties and expansion of activities, the crop density of these areas will increase by more 5 percent. To this end, 4,261 solar panels (solar powered) light traps, 4,261 LNPs (low lift pumps) will be distributed for the use of barren land. 121 huge sheds, 121 submersible pumps and 121 solar systems will be installed in the char.
In order to implement the plan, a project titled ‘Expansion of modern agricultural technology suitable for char areas of Bangladesh’ has been undertaken. The proposed cost of the project is estimated at Tk 228 crore. It will be implemented by the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) of the Ministry of Agriculture. Project proposals have recently been sent to the Planning Commission. The commission will take the next decision after verification and selection. The project will be implemented for a period of six years after approval.
According to the Department of Agricultural Extension, there are about 2,225 sq km of char areas in the country. Where one and a half million or 1.5 million people live. Most of them are poor. About 6 percent of this vast pasture is in the north, which is about one and a half thousand square kilometers. The use of advanced technology is needed to change the fortunes of the people of Char by growing crops in these chars. It is also important to use fallow land.
Officials of the department say that even if the crop is harvested in the char areas, it is not at the desired level. This is because the farmers are following the conventional and primitive farming methods. As there is a lack of good seeds, there is no method of agricultural decentralization. However, there is a possibility of increasing the yield by cultivating through improved seeds and agricultural mechanization. Utilizing this potential, the project has been proposed for the purpose of socio-economic development of the farmers through employment by increasing the density of the crop.
Farmer skill development
Under this project various activities including skill development of farmers will be implemented. This includes skill development of farmers in 4,261 batches; To develop the skills of farmers who grow vegetables in seedling production and water house and to organize 1,210 field days, 411 agricultural fairs, 30 seminars and 360 motivational trips.
Under this project there will be 6,171 agricultural technology extension exhibitions. It will display various types of agricultural products. Among them are sugarcane, jute, black cumin, sweet potato, sunflower, chilli, beans etc. The project has been proposed for implementation in 121 upazilas of 35 districts.
Purpose of the project
The objective of the project is to ‘expand modern agricultural technology suitable for char areas of Bangladesh’, to increase the production of crops suitable for char areas in the country, to achieve food security, nutrition and sustainable development of socio-economic conditions.
The specific objectives of the project are to increase crop density from 5 per cent to 145 per cent through expansion of improved agricultural technology and use of fallow land, increase agricultural production through expansion of modern technology suitable for project area and increase crop cultivation, improve nutritional value of char people and ensure food security.
According to the department, in the basins of Padma, Meghna, Jamuna and Brahmaputra, huge amounts of sand, loam and silt have accumulated in layers. There are various natural calamities like river erosion, floods, droughts, the people of Char have to survive by dealing with these. These issues have also been taken as the reason for the implementation of the project.
In this regard, the former director general of the Department of Agricultural Extension Benazir Alam said the project is being undertaken with the aim of increasing the production of suitable crops in the char areas of the country, achieving food security, nutrition and sustainable development of socio-economic conditions. Improved varieties of mustard can be cultivated in the char. Besides, modern varieties of maize can also be produced. There are unrestricted opportunities for cultivation of various types of rabi crops in the char. The production of modern varieties of rabi crops will also increase employment in the char areas.
He added that the population of the country is increasing. Arable land is also declining due to various reasons. As a result of the use of fallow land of Char, on the one hand, the food shortage of the country will be met, on the other hand, the wheel of fortune of the poor people of Char will also turn.
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