Drought-tolerant wheat varieties gain popularity in Barind

Some newly developed drought-tolerant and high-yielding wheat varieties, especially BARI Gom-26, have started gaining popularity among farmers of the drought-prone Barind tract.With the breakthrough, farmers have started using the varieties instead of the outdated ones as they are getting more yields. Apart from this, many farmers are now become more interested towards wheat farming as they are facing problems in cultivation of Irri-boro paddy in the water-stress condition in the Barind area comprising 25 Upazilas of Rajshahi, Naogaon and Chapainawabganj districts.Talking to BSS some of the benefited farmers said the Regional Wheat Research Center has released the developed high-yielding varieties like Shatabdi, Prodip, Bijoy and BARI Gom-25 and 26. These varieties are also more tolerant to leaf blight and leaf rush- disease to bring the fallow lands under the wheat farming in the water-stress condition.Meanwhile, wheat farming has been enhanced to some extent in the region this season as the growers obtained better output due to the improved varieties and suitable climatic condition in the previous season.Besides, they also attained expected market price. Abul Hossain, a farmer of Farhadpur village under Godagari Upazila, said the farmers harvested 13 to 18 mounds of wheat from per bigha of land last year. Similarly, they sold the wheat at Taka 700 to 900 per mound.In the current season, the growers said many people including the amateur farmers have brought big fields including the fallow lands under wheat farming on commercial basis and most of the wheat fields are now become eye-catching condition.Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA) has adopted special measures to promote the modern varieties among the growers level to mitigate the present water-stress condition, said ATM Rafiqul Islam, Deputy Manager (Agriculture) of BMDA.Dr Israil Hossain, Chief Scientific Officer of Regional Wheat Research Center, told BSS that the nation produces 12 lakh tonnes of wheat against annual demand of at least 35 lakh metric tons. So, he said there is no alternative to enhance local production to meet up the huge local demand.He viewed that sustainable wheat production was a must for ensuring food security as it was the second most important cereal in the country after rice and plays a vital role in the national food security.Keeping in mind, he said the Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) has released the high-yielding wheat varieties among the growers level and those were popularized during the last couple of years significantly throughout the country.Besides the varieties, modern farming technologies and farm mechanization in particular coupled with application method was also transferred among the farmers. While bed-plantation method has been gaining popularity in the region as the farmers are getting more benefit after using the modern method, he mentioned.”We have developed projection plots on around 12 hectares of farmers’ field in Barind area for boosting seed production of the latest varieties during the current season besides various other motivational campaigns and training programmes,” Dr Israil added.Meanwhile, farmers have brought around 1.67 lakh hectares of land under wheat cultivation against the target of 1.57 lakh hectares set by the Department of Agriculture Extension in eight districts of the region this season. -BSS, Rajshahi