Already hit hard by a drought-like situation in the district and rising fertiliser rates, farmers of Jhenaidah have been dealt another severe blow -- this time, by the recent fuel price hike and power crisis in the country.
Farmers say their agricultural fields have dried up due to inadequate rainfall and their inability to continuously irrigate the same using diesel-powered pumps that entails a huge operational cost given the recent fuel price hike in Bangladesh.
Besides, the prices of fertilisers have also increased over the past year, multiplying the losses of the farmers.
Majnur Rahman of Rangiyarpota village in Sadar upazila, cultivated Ropa Aman on just five-and-a-half bighas of his eight-bigha land this year. "Rising fuel and fertiliser prices forced me to take such a decision."
Another farmer, Jamal Uddin Biswas, expresses frustration over the recent fuel price hike. "If the fuel prices are not reduced, we will have to bear huge losses as the cultivation target will not be met this year," he says.
Farmer Somir Uddin says the Aman paddy needs plenty of rainfall. "Due to scanty rains this year, farmers need to spend an extra Tk 1,200 per bigha for irrigation."
Many farmers have demanded the provision of low-cost diesel through agricultural cards if the government cannot reduce fuel prices.
"If the prices of fertilisers, fuel and electricity are increased in this agriculture-dependent country in this way, farmers will be forced to give up farming at some point,” Somir Uddin adds.
Azgar Ali, deputy director of Jhenaidah Agricultural Extension Department, says a target has been set for the cultivation of Ropa Aman on 1,04,750 hectares of land in the district this year.
"By mid-August, 53,262 hectares have been cultivated only. Besides, various types of vegetables are being cultivated on 2,554 hectares of land," he says.
According to Azgar, there are two lakh farmer families in the district. "The target has not been met yet as the farmers could not irrigate their fields due to lack of water amid this fuel price hike and power crisis.
We are advising the farmers to try their best to meet the target of Aman cultivation.”
The government hiked the prices of fuel by a big margin on August 5.
Diesel prices were increased by Tk 34 to Tk 114 per litre, octane by Tk 46 to Tk 135 per litre and petrol by Tk 44 to Tk 130 a litre. The government also recently embarked on rationing of power to tackle the ongoing energy crisis in the country.