Thousands of farmers in Sunamganj are worried as rats are eating up their paddy at Jahangirnagar union under Sadar upazila in Sunamganj Haor area.
Mizanur Rahman, a resident of Islampur village, said paddy on his five kiar (one kiar = 30 decimals) of land has been destroyed, adding that farmers are afraid of taking their crops home. The rats destroy almost every edible thing in the infested localities, he said.
Paddy on Mizanur's neighbour Abdur Matin's six kiar, Shahjahan's five kiar, Emran Hossain's five kiar, Manjil Hossain's four kiar, Shah Alam's four kiar, Siddique Mia's two kiar, Hanif Molla's six kiar, Hekim Mia's 20 kiar, Mizanur's five kiar in South Para of the village, and Sujon Mia's 15 kiar in Purbapara have been ruined.
The affected farmers said agricultural officials did not visit the spots even for one day.
He has never seen such a threat, said Shamsul Haq, 55, of Mangalkata village.
"I sell pesticides, including Ujjala rat killer and Hindustani rat killer, but they are not working, said Mujibur Rahman, a pesticide trader in the local Mangalkata market.
Abdur Rob, convener of North Surma Development Council, said around four hundred kiars of paddy lands have been destroyed. The numerous rats cannot be killed or controlled, he said, adding that they cannot seek suggestions from the agriculture officials and field workers as they are not visiting the affected fields.
However, agriculture officials refuted the allegation and said they are giving advice to the affected farmers on how to check the problem.
The cost of paddy cultivation has increased due to use of pesticides, but those have failed to check the attack, several farmers said.
Jahangirnagar Union Parishad Chairman Moksed Ali said many villagers in his union are passing days amid hardship as they are facing serious losses due to the problem. It is important that the agriculture department looks into the matter seriously, he added.
Syed Imran Hossain, sub-assistant agriculture officer of Mangalkata block of Sunamganj Sadar upazila, claimed that the allegation is not true. “We have distributed leaflets in many places on how to prevent the attack by rats. Those who did not get it may have complained,” he said.
They are advising farmers to use Zinc Prospect and Lanirat to get rid of the rats, he added.
Sadar Upazila Agriculture Officer Salah Uddin Tipu said the attack by rats on Aman paddy increased due to less rainfall, adding that the number of rats will decrease if it rains. An agricultural sub-assistant of another block will be recruited on an urgent basis for the Mangalkata block, he said. They are telling farmers to use certain medicines, he added.
He said Aman paddy was cultivated on 11,000 hactares in his upazila.