Floods damage crops of Tk 350cr so far
Floods have already damaged crops worth nearly Tk 350 crore and are going to pile up further losses on tens of thousands of farmers, according to an official estimate.
Growers of aus and aman rice crops, jute and summer vegetables in 14 districts suffered the biggest losses as the floods submerged nearly 42,000 hectares of the cropland, said Alhaz Uddin Ahmed, director of the field services wing at the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE).
"There is no scope of recovery of the crops that went underwater," he said.
The estimate of the loss was prepared based on inundation from June 25 to July 9. As soon as the DAE had completed the primary estimates, the floods, resulting from heavy rainfall and onrush of water from upstream, started submerging the localities and farmlands in the northern and central regions.
Until yesterday, crops on 62,000 hectares area in 26 districts were affected by the floodwaters. This includes the districts that were affected by the flood in the first spell, said DAE officials.
The natural disaster hit the country and farming at a time when the government has given a thrust to utilise every piece of cultivable land to ensure enough food production so that the nation can manage food supply and fight the Covid-19 pandemic without having to rely on global markets.
As part of the plan, the agriculture ministry earlier allocated Tk 33 crore for distribution of seed and fertilizer among small and marginal farmers to encourage them to grow rice during the aus season and cultivate summer onion.
It widened aus rice acreage and yield targets, apart from increasing the cultivation of aman, the second-biggest rice crop contributing 39 per cent to the total 3.63 crore tonnes of rice output in the last fiscal year.
The ministry increased the aus paddy planting target by 17 per cent from the previous year's acreage.
The acreage for aus, which is harvested in July and August, crossed the target and stood at 13.36 lakh hectares, the highest in two decades.
The ministry earlier raised the rice production target by 20 per cent to 36 lakh tonnes during the aus season and targeted to increase the cultivation and yields during the current aman rice season by encouraging farmers to grow newly released improved varieties of rice.
Farmers plant the crop during the rainy season and harvest in November and December. The agriculture ministry reduced the prices of seeds.
As the floods continue to inundate, the DAE prepares to provide rehabilitation support to farmers.
"We will begin rehabilitation activities after the water recedes," said DAE Director General Md Abdul Muyeed.
"We have taken a three-pronged strategy to support growers with seedlings," he said, adding that agricultural workers would encourage farmers to plant vegetables like bottle gourd in moveable bags.
To provide seedlings of aman crop, the DAE took a Tk 2.14-crore project to develop community seedbeds on 527 acres. The idea is to support 35,000 farmers to grow rice on the same bighas of land, said Ahmed.
It would support more than 1,250 farmers to grow seedlings on floating seedbeds.
The DAE will pilot a scheme of growing seedbeds in trays of rice transplanters to distribute seedlings among 1,600 growers, said Alhaz.
He said seedlings of late varieties of aman rice such as BR-22 and BR-23 would be prepared to help farmers make up their losses caused by the floods.
The government aims to bring 58.95 lakh hectares of land under aman cultivation this year to produce 1.53 crore tonnes of rice.
Until yesterday, farmers planted aman on five lakh hectares of area, including three lakh hectares of broadcast variety, according to the DAE.