The Sturdy Aman:
Drought Tolerant Paddy
Drought can cause extreme hardship to the farmers of Bangladesh. Very often, farmers suffer very low or no yield at all, thus making living for them a hard one. It is fortunate that farmers of Lalmonirhat district are harvesting a drought-tolerant variety Aman paddy. The variety not is sturdy enough to drought tolerance, but also is of short duration with high yield.
S Dilip Roy
Farmers cultivated this variety of paddy on the lands, taking both technical support and seeds from a non-government organization, Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS). Thirty villages of three upazilas in Lalmonirhat district this year benefited for this service.
More and more farmers are becoming interested to cultivate this variety of Aman paddy on their lands in the next. Kamla Kanto Roy (55), a farmer at Doljor village of Aditmari upazila said that he cultivated drought-tolerant Aman variety on 40 decimal of land this year, spending Tk 3,000, and he got production of 18 maunds (measurement of weight) paddy. “I started cultivation this variety of rice the last year, at first I cultivated on only 15 decimals lands, but this year it is increased to 40 decimals of land. I hope to increase cultivation this variety on even more land in the next year,” he said.
Atiar Rahman, another farmer at same village said, he cultivated drought tolerant Aman paddy on 50 decimal lands and he got the production expected. It is his first experience to cultivate this variety. “NGO RDRS officials encouraged me to cultivate this variety this year as the NGO provides technical support and seed for cultivating this variety. After harvesting paddy, I prepare the land to cultivate winter vegetables” he said.
Mobarok Hosain, a farmer at Haribhanga village in Lalmonirhat sadar (town) cultivated drought-tolerant Aman paddy on 25 decimal of lands this year, and has already harvested it. He was happy getting advance rice from the drought-tolerant Aman variety. “I harvested the paddy one month ago. The paddy came as a blessing as I was facing financial crisis in the family” he said.
Lalmonirhat Agriculture Extension Department official sources said that, about 500 farmers of 30 villages in Lalmonirhat district cultivated the drought-tolerant Aman paddy variety on about 520 bighas of land this year, whereas it was only 70 bighas last year. NGO RDRS Agriculture Coordinator, Mamunur Rashid said that the both drought-tolerant rice variety (BRRI dhan56 and BRRI dhan57) is a short duration rice variety. Its life cycle is completed by 110-120 days with field duration of 90 to 100 days.
The northern region of Bangladesh is considered a drought-prone area. “Monga”, means seasonal crisis which generally occurs during mid-September and mid-November every year. Due to short duration nature of this drought- tolerant rice variety, the crop can be harvested in October, which creates employment for day-labourers and rice for farmers, thus enabling them to reduce the effect of monga.
It is medium grain rice, which may attract farmers to get higher price in the market. This variety is also unique in producing khichuri (lentil mixed rice) and muri (rice puff). “To help farmers cope with water scarcity, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) along with Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) has developed the rice variety that is not only drought tolerant but also short duration nature with high yield despite the lack of water. The genotype has been dispersed to other Asian rice growing countries including Bangladesh. The said breeding line also released by India in the name of Sahbhagi Dhan in 2009 and by Nepal in the name of Sookha Dhan3 in 2011. Also, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) has developed another rice variety of same characters has been released in Bangladesh as BRRI dhan57 in same year,” he said.
RDRS explained about this variety – rice production faces the threat of a growing worldwide water scarcity due to climate change. Food security of millions of farm-households depends on the availability of water. Water scarcity is the most severe limitation to the productivity of rice in drought-prone areas. It takes, on an average, 2500 liters of water (by rainfall or irrigation) to produce one kilogram of rice using traditional cultivation method. Considering the effects of climate change, farm households can't continue to grow rice, if the water supply becomes increasingly scarce. The threat of climate change, however, is greatly aggravating the drought problem. The impact of climate change is already being felt in Bangladesh through increased incidences and severity of droughts and floods. Around one million hectares of land in Bangladesh is drought-prone. Rice farmers in rainy areas often face crop failure due to drought at different stages of the crop. The delay of monsoon results into delayed transplanting of seedlings, which affects yield of rice. A long interval between two rains during monsoon causes drought at vegetative stage. Also, early departure of monsoon affects crop by exposing it to drought, which is happening now-a-days due to climate change.
One of the most viable options to enable farmers to adapt to climate change is the use of rice varieties with good tolerance of drought. The development of drought-tolerant rice varieties is one of the solutions to increase rice yields in drought-prone environments.
Agriculture expert of RDRS explained the technology of this variety is drought-tolerant rice variety fits best in rice-wheat/potato–mung bean cropping pattern. Sandy loam to clay loam soil is better for cultivation of this variety. High to medium high land with alternate wetting and drying is preferable for good harvest of this variety. It requires 35-40 kg seeds for transplanting one hectare of land. Seedling age of 20-25 days old is better for good tilling of the crop, but seedling age with 30 days can also be used. It requires closer spacing and planting configuration of 15cm x 15cm for higher yield of this variety. Two to three seedlings per hill in this spacing are enough for optimum population of this drought tolerant rice. This variety can be transplanted from early July to early August in Bangladesh. Early transplantation of this variety creates opportunity to early harvest during monga period of northern Bangladesh and subsequent early establishment of winter crops.
Early establishment of winter crops ensures better system productivity incorporating of this variety and mung bean in the cropping system. In case of dry seeding, seeds are sown in 20 cm apart in rows either by seed drill or behind the plough with a seed rate of 40-50 kg/ha. In wet seeding, sprouted seeds (soaked in water for 24 hours and incubated for 48 hours) are using power tiller operated seeder machine (PTOS) or drum seeder with a seed rate of 35-40 kg/ha. Soil test-based fertilizer recommendation is the best to get maximum yield. If it is not possible, then application of 60-30-20 kg N P, K, ha-1 is enough for the variety.
Basal application of all P and K and two splits of N applications at 10 and 40 days after planting are desirable for this drought tolerant rice variety. As it is a drought tolerant rice variety, it requires less amount of water throughout its growth period but alternate wetting and drying environment is favorable for optimum growth and yield of the crop. Two weeding before 40 days after planting is enough to control weed of this variety. For herbicidal weed control, it needs to apply butachlor at 1.5 kg/ha or pretilachlor at 800 g/ha or pyrazosulfuron ethy1 at 20 g/ha in a thin film of ater in transplanted rice field at 3-6 days after transplanting. It can be done either by spraying or broadcasting granules or even by mixing EC formulations with sand 50 kg/ha nd then broadcasting the same. In case of direct seeded rice, pre-emergence application of butachlor (3-5 days after seed sowing) at 1.25 kg/ha or pretilachlor at 800 g/ha in moist surface soil effectively controls the first thrust of grassy weeds and sedges in direct seeded rice. Chemical weed control should be followed by mechanical weeding or light manual weeding before top-dressing of nitrogen. Agriculture expert briefed about the advantages of this variety that now-a-days, farmers are usually irrigating Aman rice fields in September-October due to low and sometimes no rainfall during this period. But cultivation of this drought-tolerant rice enabled them to have considerable amount of money. Farmers have shown particular interest in this drought-tolerant rice variety for its drought tolerance capacity as well as short duration nature and comparatively higher yield, which can be flexible enough to avoid drought during late September-October as well as higher market price due to early market.
The Deputy Director of Lalmonirhat AED Abdul Mazid said that this variety can be transplanted from early July to early August in Bangladesh. Early transplantation of this variety creates opportunity to early harvest during monga period of northern Bangladesh and subsequent early establishment of winter crops. Early establishment of winter crops ensures better system productivity incorporating of this variety and mung bean in the cropping system. “Soil test-based fertilizer recommendation is the best to get maximum yield. As it is a drought tolerant rice variety, it requires less amount of water throughout its growth period but alternate wetting and drying environment is favorable for optimum growth and yield of the crop,” he said.
Cover Illustration by Ujjal Ghose
(R) thedailystar.net 2012