Hay collected from the harvest of paddy is being sold at high prices in the local markets of Lalmonirhat and Kurigram as this year's prolonged floods have damaged grass fields extensively in the districts.
The flood-affected victims said one kilogram of hay is being sold for Tk 50 to Tk 55 while the market price of paddy is Tk 25 to Tk 27 per kg. Due to acute fodder crisis, cattle farmers in the areas are forced to buy hay at high prices to feed their cows.
According to the Department of Livestock (DLS), there are about 27 lakh cows in Lalmonirhat and Kurigram. About four lakh agricultural families in the districts earn their livelihood by rearing cows. Grass fields and haystacks have been severely damaged by this year's prolonged floods, much to the worry of cattle farmers.
Kurigram Livestock Officer Dr Abdul Hai Sarkar said grass fields would be available from next month after harvesting Aman paddy. So, farmers in the areas have to buy cow feed hay at high prices during the time.
Manjurul Islam, a hay trader from Ramna area in Chilmari upazila of Kurigram, said he is buying hay from different places and selling it to farmers. At present, one kg of hay is being sold for Tk 50 to Tk 55. Two weeks ago, kg of hay was sold at Tk 32 to Tk 35. At this time last year, he sold one kg of hay at Tk 20 to Tk 22.
'We are buying hay at a higher price and therefore it is being sold at a higher price,' he said.
Sarwar Hossain, a wholesaler in Jatrapur area of Kurigram Sadar upazila, said he bought hay worth Tk 10 lakh and stocked it this year. About 70 percent of the stocked hay was sold a month ago. The remaining 30 percent hay is selling at a higher price.
The demand and price of hay has increased as the floods have damaged the fields of haystacks and grass extensively this year, he said.
Nazrul Islam, a farmer from Hatia village in Ulipur upazila of Kurigram, said this time he purchased four maunds of hay with the money he earned from selling eight maunds of paddy.
Afzal Hossain, another cattle farmer from Gobordhan area of Aditmari upazila in Lalmonirhat, said he had to buy hay with the money borrowed from a local NGO.
They will have to bear the burden of rearing cows until start of Aman paddy harvest early November, he added.