Already hit hard by Covid-19 and related restrictions, farmers of five upazilas in Lalmonirhat district have been dealt another severe blow this year— this time, by a month of torrential rainfall.
A reality check by UNB has revealed that the incessant showers over the past one month and consequent flooding have not only flattened the crops and inundated the agricultural fields and roads of the five upazilas, but have also pushed many to the brink of starvation.
"I brought two bighas of land under Aman cultivation. I was waiting for the sheaf of paddy but torrential rainfall for over a month has ruined my crops, also my livelihood," said Soypal Mia, a farmer in Chalbala union of Kaliganj upazila.
Soypal's agricultural land is still submerged and he is struggling to drain water from the fields. "There is no scope to plant new crops on this land," he said.
Mufti Abul Hossain, a farmer of Satbhita Dola, is also devastated. “I brought 15 bighas of land for aman paddy cultivation but rains have flattened my fields. I have not been able to collect straw as fodder for my cattle. How would I feed my family, only Allah knows."
Farmers say they will now have to hire people for clearing the agricultural fields of rotten crops and weeds.
Take for instance, Mintu Mia and Mozzammel Haque of Koyar Dola who have spent their entire life savings to buy land under Aman cultivation. "But our lands are under water, and now we have to shell out money to get our fields cleared of weeds," they said.
Farmers are now demanding government assistance for the worst affected.
According to the District Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), a target has been set to cultivate Aman paddy on 85,290 hectares of land in the district this year, but only 85,575 hectares could be brought under Aman cultivation.
Some 3,500 hectares of Aman land have been submerged, while 13,605 farmers are affected fully as their fields have been damaged. The estimated loss caused by the damage to the farmers of the region is Tk 8.33 crore.
Besides, 62 hectares of vegetables and peanut frields have been damaged. According to DAE, some 860 hectares of land of 16,470 farmers have been damaged in the district, counting a loss of Tk 10.38 crore.
But the farmers said the number of affected farmers and lands will be doubled than the figure provided by the DAE.
When contacted, Shamim Ashraf, deputy director of Lalmonirhat DAE, said, “Many crops, including Aman paddy, and different vegetable fields have been damaged due to the torrential rains and there is no way to plant Aman saplings on their land."
"As a result, farmers have no way to make preparations for the next Rabi crops on their fields. Anyway, we have prepared a list of affected farmers that has been sent to the Ministry and government assistance will be provided to the needy," he said.