3 years ago

Irrigation, ploughing costs shoot overnight following fuel price rise

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The latest diesel price hike has already started hitting the farmers hard as the irrigation and ploughing charges increased overnight during this peak winter cropping season.

Market experts have expressed the fear that it would also push up the food prices further due to consequent increase in the production and transportation costs of products.

Many farmers, who were now busy preparing for cultivation of Boro, potato, oil crops, wheat, maize and other agriculture commodities, alleged that the water pump operators have already raised overnight the irrigation cost by Tk 500-600 per bigha (33 decimals).

"The tractor operator in my village raised the charge by Tk 200 per bigha to plough the land where I will sow potato seeds," Shah Suja, a farmer at Ramnagar in Nilphamari told the FE.

As compared to previous charge of Tk 900-1,000 per bigha, he said the irrigation cost will be Tk 1,400-1,600 per bigha in the upcoming Boro cultivation season which will start within a few weeks with the completion of Aman harvest.

Abdur Rahman, a farmer-cum-trader at East Ziarukhi in Kushtia Sadar, apprehended that the fares of diesel-run local vehicles like Nasiman, Kariman, Bhotvoti and others that which carry human, cattle, food crops and others will increase notably within a few days.

Above 60 per cent out of 11.9 million hectares of cultivable land in the country are being irrigated by diesel-run pumps, according to the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC).

According to the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC), the country's farm sector consumes 3.4-3.5 million tonnes of diesel annually for irrigation purposes to run 1.34 million units of water pumps.

"Boro is almost entirely dependent on supplementary irrigation and it contributes more than 56 per cent to the overall rice production," Prof Dr Ismat Ara Begum, Faculty of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology at the Bangladesh Agricultural University, told the FE.

She said that more than 70 per cent of Boro land out of 4.8 million hectares is being irrigated by diesel-run water pumps as well as more than 90 per cent of such land is being ploughed by the diesel-run tractors and power-tillers.

She said the price hike of diesel will surely put a significant impact on the production costs of Boro rice, potato and other winter crops.

She said food might become pricier further if diesel is not subsidised for the peasantry.

Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation (BAFLF) secretary Golam Sarwar said their primary prediction was that the farmers might have to spend additional Tk 60 billion in the Boro season alone due to the diesel price hike.

He said the government should withdraw the decision immediately for the interests of both farmers and consumers.

Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) vice president S M Nazer Hossain said the prices of rice, sugar, edible oil, milk, fish, poultry meat, egg and other essentials have increased notably in the last one year, putting the consumers in a peril during this pandemic.

He said the latest price hike of diesel will further deteriorate the condition of the commoners who were struggling hard just to survive during this tough time.

He said the living costs will witness a significant surge as the fuel price hike is going to affect all sectors.

Mr Nazer urged the government to review its decision and keep the prices of diesel and kerosene at their previous rates.

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