Floods, Amphan wash away Tk 900cr fish | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 10, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:46 PM, September 10, 2020

Floods, Amphan wash away Tk 900cr fish

Govt is yet to extend any support to farmers

Repeated floods since the end of June have washed away Tk 510 crore worth of fishes in the central, north and southern districts, according to the Department of Fisheries (DoF).

The deluge submerged nearly 100,000 ponds and fish enclosures of 77,158 farmers.

In terms of losses, aquaculture farmers in Dhaka were the hardest hit followed by farmers in Barishal, Sylhet and Rajshahi divisions, according to data from the DoF.

This is the second time in the year that natural disaster played havoc with the aquaculture farmers. In May, the cyclone Amphan wiped away dreams of 39,000 shrimp and fresh water farmers causing losses of Tk 390 crore.

Despite a combined loss of Tk 900 crore in 2020, the government is yet to announce any support for the affected fish producers whose endeavour has enabled Bangladesh to be one of the largest farmed fish producers in the world.

Farming grew over the last two decades and farmed fish accounted for 56 per cent of the total of 43 lakh tonnes of fish produced in the fiscal year 2017-18, according to DoF.

Aquaculture, which takes place on 800,000 hectares mainly in ponds, lifted more than 20 lakh people out of poverty between 2000 and 2010, according to a study by International Food Policy Research Institute last year.

The fisheries office has recently taken up a Tk 126 crore scheme to support the affected farmers mainly by providing juvenile fishes and other inputs, said Azizul Haque, deputy director for aquaculture at the DoF.

"We have prepared a short- and long-term scheme. We will be able to stand beside farmers with assistance as soon as we get approval," he said.

Azizur Rahman, a small fish farmer at Bishwanath of Sylhet, said officials from local fisheries office visited the ponds that were flooded, leaving the water body out of fishes he had been growing for a month.

He is yet to get any assistance from the government to resume farming.

"I am waiting for support," he said over phone yesterday.

The floods that began to hit the country towards the end of June vanished the distinction between rivers, wetlands and ponds in many areas in the north and central regions of the country.

Floodwaters started to recede by the end of last month, giving relief to crop and fish farmers, according to the disaster management and relief ministry.

The DoF found that farmers in the northeast district of Sunamganj were the worst hit out of the 38 districts. Total losses of farmers in the district ran into Tk 53 crore.

Fisheries, a major subsector of agriculture, accounted for 3.5 per cent of the country's gross domestic product in fiscal year 2019-20.

Overall losses of farmers, including crop producers, for the two-month flood stood at over Tk 1,800 crore, according to data from the DoF and agriculture ministry. 

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