Jurachari Upazila is located at a distance of 56 km from Rangamati town. Most of the people here depend on agriculture. Every year, during the dry season, the Boro farmers would be frustrated by the water crisis due to severe drought, and 70-80 hectares of land would remain uncultivated.
Now that day is no more, all the cultivable lands of the Upazila are being cultivated. There is no frustration even among the farmers. How did this happen?
Nonetheless, Solar pumps are installed in the area connected to the solar power. Irrigation work is now going on in the pump water. Solar power has changed the total image of Jurachari cultivation.
According to Rangamati Hill District Council sources, a special project of the Ministry of Hill Tracts is being implemented by the Rangamati Hill District Council with the support of SID-CHT, UNDP, funded by Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) under the Embassy of Denmark, Bangladesh.
This project is the CHT Climate Resilience Project (CCRP). Under this project, solar panels and pumps and community seed bank have been set up for enhancing the agricultural system through the Tonyabichhara Climate Resilient Committee (CRC) of Sadar Union of Jurachari Upazila.
It can be seen on the spot that 3,000 HP solar powered solar panels with nine solar panels have been installed in each of Sitaram Para, Sapchhari Para, East Sapchhari and Lulangchhari. Each panel has a solar pump. As soon as the sun rises in the morning, the watering of the land begins. And it relentlessly continues till 5 pm.
Besides, every house on the hill is being illuminated by solar light as soon as evening falls. The children are studying till 8-9 pm. Again, someone is watching television at night after being busy with farming all day. Many women use solar lights at night to weave looms for themselves and for sale as well.
Tarpan Chakma, Upazila Project Implementation Officer, said, "Under the TR and Kabikha programs in the 2016-17 financial year, 161 marginalized religious and educational institutions were given 18 and 199 stick lights. A total of 518 solar panels have been distributed free of cost in the 2017-18 financial year and 48 solar panels in the 2019-20 fiscal year. Besides, 11,000 families have been brought under solar electrification through various projects of Union Parishad."
Lakshmi Devi (40) of Chalkapara said, "I work in the Jhum Field all day, weaving cloth at the waist using solar light at night. I make cloth in 10-15 days. Each cloth is sold in the market at a price of 3-4 thousand Taka. I use this money to pay for my children's education."
In Banyogichhara Union, many people like Champa and Kanak Chakma of Baraitali are earning 10-12 thousand Taka (USD 142) a month by weaving cloth at the waist during their leisure time.
Palash Khisa, District Officer, CCRP, Rangamati Hill District Council, said, "The water level is going down day by day due to climate change. As a result, most of the land in the Jurachari Tonabichhara CRC area (five neighbourhoods) remained uncultivated due to drought. Solar panels, pumps and seed storage facilities have been set up at the cost of Taka 10 lakh (USD 12000) to make these uncultivated lands suitable for cultivation due to the need to increase agricultural production under the CCRP Project of SID-CHT, UNDP."
Upazila Agriculture Officer Sushmita Chakma said 45 hectares of land has come under cultivation for the installation of solar panels and pumps.
Upazila Education Officer Kaushik Chakma said, "The quality of education has increased with the installation of solar panels in every house in the marginal areas. Computers are being used to install solar panels in schools in areas where there is no electricity connection, making it possible to take multimedia classes."
Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Jitendra Kumar Nath said, "The government's free solar panel distribution program is a very timely project for the people of the hills. In the meantime, women have the opportunity to become self-employed and students to study using solar light. This solar project has enhanced the livelihood situation quite noticeably."
Upazila Chairman Suresh Kumar Chakma said, "Irrigation system is being ensured through solar pumps. The life of the hills is shining in the light of solar power now."