Farmers encouraged for adopting modern irrigation method


In the wake of abnormal lowering of underground water table, farmers in the vast Barind tract are being encouraged adopting water-saving irrigation method like AWD.
The farmers are also suggested to cultivate wheat instead of only Irri-boro paddy in the drought-prone dried area comprising 25 upazilas of Rajshahi, Naogaon and Chapainawabgonj districts.
Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA), the largest state-owned irrigation providing organization in the country’s northwest region, has taken the initiative of wide-ranging promotion of Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) irrigation method.
“We are conducting field level research on AWD after taking the issue of limited underground water into unduly consideration,” said Engineer Ahsan Zakir, Executive Director of BMDA. He added that vigorous programmes including farmers training and campaign were undertaken to promote the method.
While talking to BSS here, he narrated the ongoing and expanding field level activities to popularize the easiest technology.
He said popularization and mass adoption of the irrigation technology in Boro farming can save 30 per cent underground water. The farmers also get additional yield.
Water table in the barind area has been declined alarmingly due to adverse impact of climate change, Farakka dam and excessive extraction of groundwater.
“Every year, we have to irrigate over 7.52 lakh hectares of farming fields including 2.61 lakh hectares of irri-boro lands in the region. For the purpose, we have to operate 14,090 power-driven deep tube wells”, he said adding the total irrigation is dependent on groundwater.
BMDA has conceived the method as an effort to keep the underground water table intact through less consumption of irrigation water. “We are encouraging the farmers to cultivate wheat on priority basis. If anyone shows more interest to cultivate Irri-boro, he will be forced to adopt the method”.
He said that the farmers generally consume 3,000 to 3,200 litres irrigated waters to produce one kilogram paddy. But, the paddy plants hardly need 1,500 to 2,000 litres for the same if AWD technology is used.
Dr Tahmid Hossain Ansari, Principal Scientific Officer of BRRI, said AWD is a simplest technology of determining irrigation times in Boro fields. It requires a 25 cm long PVC pipe or hollow bamboo pieces or even waste bottles of cold drinks like coca cola.
On one side of the pipe, fifteen cm is perforated for easy horizontal movement of water. It is to be installed vertically with its perforated portion under the ground level when the soil within the pipe is scoped out so that soil at the lower end of the pipe is visible.
The farmers should irrigate fields in such a way that water does not overtop the imperforated portions, watch leaching down of water through the pipes, and irrigate when the soil at the bottom of the pipes will be visible with no water standing on the soil hat.
The ecology, environment, bio- diversity would be improved with retardation in the desertification process as 30 per cent less water would be lifted for irrigation purposes every year saving its underground reserve.
Dr Ansari said that mass applications of the technology can reduce five times irrigations compared to the conventional farmers’ practice, reduce 30 litres diesel consumption per hectare for irrigation, and produce 500 kg more paddy per hectare.