Farmers were harvesting boro paddy days before those could ripen in Hakaluki Haor in Moulvibazar after rain accompanied by hailstorm damaged crops on vast tracts in the last few days.
They feared further crop loss in flash floods, a calamity the region suffers frequently during this time of the year. The floods are triggered by heavy rains and onrush of water from the hills.
In 2017, flash floods wreaked havoc on the country's haors. They submerged the wetland of Sylhet, Sunamganj, Habiganj, Netrokona, Kishoreganj, Brahmanbaria and Moulvibazar. Agriculture officials said crops worth Tk 95 crore were damaged in Moulvibazar alone.
The memory is still fresh in the farmers' mind in Hakaluki, the country's largest wetland situated in five upazilas of Moulvibazar and Sylhet.
Anisur Rahman, an official from the Met office in Sreemangal, said it had been raining in Moulvibazar over the last one week.
The agriculture department in the district said most of the boro paddies cultivated this year on 53,162 hectares of land in the district were in Hakaluki.
During a visit of the haor in Kulaura upazila a few days ago, this correspondent saw fields damaged by hailstorm and rain. Farmers were cutting unripe paddies.
Farmer Shipon Mia of Kadipur village in the upazila said he had cultivated Boro on four bighas of land. “Around 15 percent of the crops have been damaged in the last few days. I harvested the paddy to avoid further loss.”
Fazlu Mia, a marginal farmer in the haor's Boromchal area, said they were experiencing rain and hailstorm from March 31.
“The sky is full of clouds. It scares us,” he said.
Monir Mia, a farmer in Bhuai area of Juri upazila, said, “I cultivated boro on two bighas of land, but sudden hailstorm destroyed one portion.”
In such a situation, many of the farmers were in doubt whether they would be able to pay back the loans they had taken for cultivating the paddy.
“I see only bleak days ahead,” said one of them, Ibrahim Mia of Muktajipur village in Kulaura upazila.
Joglul Haider, agriculture officer in Kulaura upazila office, said many farmers were cutting standing crops in fear of losses.
Contacted, Shahjahan Chowdhury, deputy director of the agriculture extension department in Moulvibazar, said although some boro crops were damaged, the quantity was not huge. He said he ordered to assess the crop loss incurred in the district.