Jute growers in Rajshahi are facing grim prospects as water shortage has got them in a fluster over rotting green jute.
They fear huge losses this year if the water crisis persists as fine quality fibre cannot be extracted without properly rotting the jute plant.
The farmers said that many of them could not decompose jute due to the scarcity of water caused by low rainfalls this season and drying up of water bodies.
According to the Department of Agricultural Extension in Rajshahi, jute has been cultivated on 12,825 hectares of land this year while it was cultivated on 13,700 hectares last year.
Following harvest, jute stalks are tied into bundles and submerged in soft running water. The stalks stay submerged in water for 20 days and then retting or fibre extraction is done by farmers standing in waist-deep water.
Visiting some villages in the district, jute stalks were seen lying on the ground and getting dried.
Talking to New Age, farmers said that they could not move the jute plants to water bodies for decomposition due to water shortage, even though the plants were cut about two weeks earlier.
Solaiman Ali, a farmer who cultivated jute in his four-bigha land under Durgapur upazila, said that he cut jute plants from three-bigha land few days earlier, but could not find a suitable place to move them for decomposition.
‘We are now waiting for the rain. If the drought-like situation continues, we have to face huge losses’, he added.
Another farmer of the village, Mojibur Rahman, said that they had no alternative but to leave the jute plants on the ground and watch them getting dried.
‘We can neither cut the jute plants nor keep them in the field as we have to make the field ready for paddy cultivation’, he added.
If they could not prepare the lands for paddy cultivation, they might have to face further losses, he lamented.
The farmers were also concerned that despite the drought-like situation affecting jute fibre production, the price remained the same as the previous year.
‘It will be disastrous for us if the price does not go up as the production will not be as high as previous year but the labour cost has increased,’ said Akbar Ali of Belpukur area.
Deb Dulal Dhali, deputy director of Rajshahi DAE office, said that due to low rainfalls, the farmers in higher grounds might face problem in rotting green jute this year.
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