Dear readers, a few days back I went to Jhakuapara of Gaibandha, a district in the country’s northern region. There, the landscape is different; some lands are higher and some low. On the relatively high lands farmers are cultivating a local variety of Aus, known as Parija. These farmers are cultivating four varieties of crops in a year.
On the other hand, the low lands can barely grow anything during the rains as you all know northern districts are prone to recurrent floods that affect the low lands most.
Since the cultivation of high-yielding Boro started, everything changed. All the calculations of production changed. According to researchers, in Bangladesh, now Aman is cultivated in 48% of lands and Boro in 45%. Aus is cultivated in only 9%. However, Boro tops in terms of production.
During the ongoing monsoon, vast areas of land usually remain under water.
Now, the high lands of the north see smooth cultivation throughout the year. Right now, the plants with ripe or nearly ripe golden paddy swing in the lands, offering a soothing natural beauty.
Farmer Shamsul Haque has his land of Parija right beside his house at Collegepara of Laxmipur union in Gaibandha district. I went to his land on 4th of August when farmers are expected to sit idle, looking at their flooded lands.
But the scenario has positively changed.
Like Shamsul, many other farmers are now cultivating Parija which takes only 90 days to harvest. Technology has made this revolutionary change.
My question to Shamsul was why Parija has become so popular.
“It takes only 90 days to grow and it’s definitely cost effective,” replied Shamsul.
This is the magic of the ‘four crop rotation’, which has literally changed everything. Generally farmers cultivate Mung dal during March-April. After harvest, in May-July, they cultivate Parija in 90 days. During August-October, they cultivate Aman. From November to January, the farmers bring the Rabi crop on the fields. Therefore, with ease, the farmers now can cultivate four different crops on the same land in a year.
Medium-high land is ideal for Parija cultivation. There are around 6 lakh hectares of such land in 16 districts of the north. Across the country, there are 18 lakh hectares more. Four crops can easily be cultivated on these lands.
I talked with Noya Miya, a farmer who is pretty happy growing Parija.
“Do you cultivate Parija?”
“I do and rest of my family members, as well.”
“Is there any change in your life?”
“We have developed a lot. I produce four crops per year and earning more than before.”
RDRS, a development organisation, is implementing this four crop rotation method in coordination with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University (BSMRAU).
In these areas of the north, agriculture was somewhat a profession to live by anyhow. However, after the implementation of the four crop technology, agriculture has now become very much profitable for farmers.
Overall, the socio-economic scenario of the whole area has changed. Now, all the farmers have positive experiences.
The Department of Agricultural Extension is playing a vital role in promoting the cultivation of Parija.
Dr MG Niyogi, an agriculture expert, started working on Parija 8-10 years back. Currently, he is working as a consultant of a project of World Bank. He suggested inclusion of this four crop cultivation technology in national planning.
Dr Mainul Haque, professor of Agronomy Department of BSMRAU, also says that this four crop technology can play a good role in ensuring long term food security.
I also talked with Khorshed Mia, another farmer who is cultivating Parija.
“How much do you get from a bigha?”
“Is the production cost less than other paddies?”
“A lot less.”
Now Khorshed doesn’t need to spend for irrigation. Rainfall does it for him. Parija needs very little fertiliser compared to other varieties, says Khorshed. Because Khorshed grew Mung dal on the same land.
“The fertility was already there in the field,” says Khorshed. “And that’s why it worked pretty well for Parija,” added Khorshed.
“We used to produce only two crops in a year. Since 2014, we are producing four crops a year, which is really great for us,” says Rahman, another sturdy farmer.
In his land, the total cost of cultivating four crops on a bigha through the year is Tk 14,070 while his earning stood at Tk 29,130 from the very land. It means he’s making a profit of 15 thousand and 60 taka from a bigha of land.
Rahman has in total 25 bighas of land. So, he earns around approximately 3 lakh 75 thousand taka from 25 bighas, in just one season.
Dear readers, the northern Bangladesh is regarded as a crop repository. However, the region also faces ‘Monga’, a seasonal food scarcity that affects a large section of poor and marginal people. Hopefully the situation has improved a lot recently. Again, the northern Bangladesh has risen with prospect of enrichment.
This is high time for introducing four crop rotation across the country. Protecting the soil health is also very important.
The gains through innovative crop farming in the high areas of the north will spread throughout the whole country if works are done by concerned government offices and development organisations, using the indigenous knowledge and experience of farmers.