Seawater damages watermelon on 1,500 hectares in Patuakhali
Watermelon on over 1,500 hectares of land in different upazilas of the district have been damaged due to flooding by salty water from the Bay and adjoining rivers during new moon last week, much to the worry of farmers.
Under the influence of the new moon, tidal surges from the Bay and its adjacent rivers flooded over 1,500 hectares of watermelon fields from April 7 to 9, said sources at Agriculture Extension Department (AED).
The huge salty water has damaged various green crops including watermelon.
Even after receding of water from those fields watermelon on the fields has continued rotting due to the effect of salty water.
Local farmers said the area of damaged watermelon fields would be 1,500 hectares as salty water entered the fields.
AED sources, however, said watermelon on 377 hectares of land has been damaged fully and on 580 hectares partly.
This year watermelon was cultivated on 6,276 hectares of land in seven upazilas of Patuakhali district -- 4,500 hectares in Galachipa upazila, 1,346 hectares in Kalapara, 275 hectares in Baufal, 70 hectares in Dashmina, 50 hectares in Sadar upazila, 20 hectares in Mirzaganj and 15 hectares in Dumki, said sources of AED.
During recent visits to different areas under Kalapara and Galachipa upazlias, this correspondent saw many watermelon fields, especially those in low areas, are still under water. Watermelon is rotting on those fields although water receded.
"I cultivated watermelon on 1.80 acres of land at a cost of Tk 30,000. I planned to sell watermelon after 10/12 days later but sudden tidal surge flooded it. Although water has been removed from my fields, watermelon is rotting due to bad effect of salty water. I have sold it for very low prices as most of it has already rotten," said Abu Bakar, 50, a farmer of Dhulashar village in Kalapara upazila.
He said he had hoped to earn Tk about one lakh but the amount would be hardly Tk 25,000.
Nasir Howlader, 40, Mosharef Hossain, 42, Bellal Howlader, Joynal Abedin, 45, Eunus, 35, Zafor, 38, and Eusuf, 36, of the village also told similar stories.
Most of the farmers cultivated watermelon with the money received as loan from banks or NGOs but all their hopes are now nipped in the bud, said several farmers.
When contacted, AED Deputy Director Nikhil Ronjon Mondol said they have already made a damage list in the district and sent it to higher authorities recommending take necessary step in this regard.