Boro paddy production declined last season after years of consistent rise as many farmers, frustrated by the low prices of paddy, cut back on plantation and switched to other crops.
Boro output , which accounts for 55 percent of the total annual production, fell 1.32 percent from a year earlier to 189.38 lakh tonnes during the production year of fiscal 2015-16, according to a preliminary estimate of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
“We understand that per hectare yield did not drop. Instead, flash flood in some growing areas and falling acreage were the main factors affecting boro rice production in the immediate past season,” said a senior official of BBS, asking not to be named.
BBS estimates that boro acreage fell 1.38 percent to 47.73 lakh hectares in the boro season that ended in May.
Earlier, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation predicted that rice output would be lower than last year’s for contraction in plantings in response to low domestic prices.
Boro was the second rice season in fiscal 2015-16 in which the acreage declined.
Earlier, aus acreage had dropped due to a shift to summer vegetables by a section of farmers on profitability grounds.
Production and area rose only during aman, the monsoon-based crop, according to BBS.
But boro acreage fell again as farmers switched to more profitable crops such as maize, wheat, potato, jute, lentils and summer vegetables as low prices of rice persisted. Farmers earlier said they incurred losses as prices of the staple were below their production costs.
With the falling boro production, total rice output in fiscal 2015-16 stood equal to last year’s 347.1 lakh tonnes.
For fiscal 2016-17, the Department of Agricultural Extension has targeted to ensure production of 23.76 lakh tonnes of aus and 134 lakh tonnes of aman rice, said an official. Harvesting of paddy grown during aus season has been completed.
Production is likely to be less than expected as acreage stood at 9.80 lakh hectares against the target of 10.80 lakh hectares for fiscal 2016-17, according to the DAE official. Many farmers have switched to jute because of the higher prices of the fibre, he said.
Jute acreage rose to 8.17 lakh hectares this year from 7.25 lakh hectares a year ago, according to DAE.
“But, we expect that the area of paddy cultivation during the aman (monsoon) season will exceed our target,” the official said, citing that the DAE’s target of aman transplantation on 52.61 lakh hectares has been achieved.
Transplantation is yet to be completed in Barisal, the southern region, where another one lakh hectares of aman acreage is expected. This season, the aman acreage will be nearly 54 lakh hectares, he said.
In its July issue of Grain and Feed Update on Bangladesh, the US Department of Agriculture said the production of summer rice aus will be lower due to decreased acreage.
It said many aus farmers switched to jute, maize and vegetable cultivation due to higher returns.
The rule for mandatory use of bulk jute bags for five agricultural commodities is driving the demand for jute and farmers have responded by increasing jute cultivation, which they expect will be more profitable than aus rice, the USDA said.