Saving the Staple

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The northern region of Bangladesh accounts for over one-third of all the rice produced in Bangladesh, but the current cultivating season faces a tragic scene as continuous cold waves in the months of November and December has caused a sudden and significant drop in the temperature, resulting in the parish of young rice plants which would have been used to grow the season’s Boro paddies. In most cases, the plants did not attain their natural growth as the planting season passed by. Collecting seeds and growing new plants have caused the rice farmers to fall behind on schedule by 15-30 days. This delay is feared to have a significant impact during the rice harvesting season, the ideal time of which is right before the monsoon. This setback might lead to the flooding of paddy fields from incessant rainfall and destruction of the rice plants, similar to the prior experiences of the northern region and Sylhet in 2017.

Bilkumari is one of the largest wetlands of the Varendra region in Rajshahi. The wetland is used as paddy fields for half the year, while the other half is used for aquaculture. The land completely disappears under water, becoming one with the river during the monsoon season.

Boro plantings are grown in the wide pasture of river Padma, flowing along the city of Rajshahi. The rice plants by this time have grown up to a height of only 1.5 inches, instead of their ideal height of 6-7 inches.

The Hardinge Bridge has overseen the Ishwardi river on the Padma for over a century and has found a company in the Lalon Shah Bridge being established in 2004. Generations have gone by with the introduction of better infrastructure, but our farming practices are still frozen in time, using century old techniques.
Rice farmer Dulal (50) of Pabna waters his seed beds along the borderline pastures of the river Padma in Kushtia. Much of his young rice plants have developed a reddish-yellow hue, instead of the usual lush green, as a result of the persisting cold weather and fog. 

The photos have been taken across Rajshahi, Pabna, and the northern regions of Bangladesh.

Photographs by Din Muhammad Shibly & Md Soliman

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