Flash Flood in Haors: Farmers in despair

Hundreds of farmers in the northeastern region of the country continued to suffer immensely because of the flash flood.

Suruj Miah, 65, a farmer in Netrakona’s Mohonganj upazila, cultivated Boro around 3 acres of cropland but all of it submerged in the flash flood.

“I’m trying to save as much as I can for feeding my family and the cattle,” he said while yielding rotten and half-ripen paddy at Chandra Shonar Thal haor in Sunamganj’s Dharmapasha upazila.

The haor submerged on April 4 after the Dubail levee broke after a flash flood triggered by torrential rainfall hit the area early this month.

While visiting the haor areas in Sunamganj, this correspondent witnessed how the farmers were struggling to protect their produce.

According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), a total of 7.08 hectares of cropland in Sunamganj, Sylhet, Netrakona and Kishoreganj districts were submerged.

The farmers in the areas claimed to have lost around 80 percent of their produce and the remaining were not in good condition. They were also in a fodder crisis.

Rabia Bibi, a female farmer at Rajapur village in Dharmapasha upazila, said, “I have 15 cows and am worried about the fodder as I lost all my harvest.”

On top of that, most farmers are indebted as they borrow money to harvest.

Mohammad Amir Hossain, a farmer of the same village, said, “I took Tk 1.5 lakh as loan and am now being pressured by the NGO.

“I don’t know how to repay as there is no alternative income source in the haor.”

Meanwhile, thousands of farmers in the haors were in fear of losing their crops as another flash flood was on the card.

Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre yesterday (Friday) forecasted a flash flood to hit the haor areas of the districts in the next 24 to 72 hours.

To save the harvest, hundreds of farmers along with concerned officials were now struggling to protect all standing dykes in the haor.

Md Muntasir Hasan, upazila nirbahi officer of Dharmapasha, said, “Some 1,065 hectares were submerged in the upazila alone in the first blow and we are now struggling to protect all risky dykes.”

Bijon Sen Roy, general secretary of Haor Bachao Andolon, said, “The farmers of the haor have only one crop to grow in a year and if the Boro is lost they wouldn’t have alternatives. They must be compensated by the government accordingly.”

Agriculture Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque yesterday said the rice price would soar if the Boro harvest is damaged.

He made this remark while visiting Chaptir Haor in Sunamganj’s Derai upazila where an early flash flood broke a dyke and thousands of acres of Boro harvest were damaged.

Razzaque said, “Around 12 to 14 lakh tonnes of paddy is produced in the haor but flash floods damage the harvest.”

“Farmers should be discouraged to cultivate BRRI-28 due to blast disease and BRRI-29 for its longer timeframe. Rather, the farmers should now consider BRRI-89, BRRI-92 and BINA-17, and the government will hand out the seed to interested farmers.”

The minister also assured food support under vulnerable group feeding (VGF) to the farmers who lost their harvest.

“We will also give the seed, fertilizer and agriculture materials in the next harvest season.”

Being asked about corruption and irregularities in levee construction work to protect the cropland, the minister said, “There are many irregularities in forming the PICs (Project Implementation Committee).”

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