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Bangladesh Praying For Rice Crop In Face Of Mid-Monsoon Drought - Reuters

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 12:12 PM
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Bangladesh Praying For Rice Crop In Face Of Mid-Monsoon Drought - Reuters
RAJSHAHI, Bangladesh - A rare drought in the middle of the monsoon season is threatening crops that account for up to a third of the country's staple rice output, especially in the north. Scant rainfall, falling river levels and lack of irrigation have left farmlands barren or sparsely planted, officials said on Wednesday.

Villagers, many too poor to buy irrigation pumps or pay for fuel, were now praying for showers, which weather officials say are unlikely to occur aplenty soon. Agriculture officials said most lands ready for planting so-called Aman rice would remain uncultivated unless adequate rains fell in the next week or so.

Aman accounts for nearly a third of Bangladesh's annual rice production of 26 million tonnes or more, officials said. Rice is the main staple for Bangladesh's 140 million people. The monsoon season lasts from June to September in Bangladesh. Rainfall recorded in July this year in the northern Rajshahi division totalled 189 milimetres against 396 a year ago, weather officials said.

They said rainfall across the rest of the country was also down compared with the last monsoon, threatening farming, navigation and fishing and the environment. "It looks like we are facing a near-drought condition in the middle of the monsoon...this is quite unusual and threatening people's living," said Abdus Sattar, a meteorologist in Rajshahi, 270 km (160 miles) from the capital Dhaka.

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