Already squeezed in between the coronavirus pandemic and annual monsoon flooding, a spell of torrential rain arrived to wreck all remaining hopes of salvaging this year’s business for Bagerhat’s vegetable farmers.
Hundreds of bighas of vegetable fields have been inundated for days, rendering the sweat and toil of farmers upto that point meaningless.
Farmers wallow in deep frustration this year as they count soaring losses.
After visiting Durgapur, Khaserhat, Charlatima and other villages of Chitalmari upazila, the UNB correspondent saw dead vegetable plants spread all over the fields while many plants have turned yellow.
The scenario remained quite same for a large portion of vegetable fields while somewhere farmers were seen weeding out the dead and pale plants. The paddy fields of Aus, Aman and their saplings were also damaged.
Far from anticipating any profits, farmer are rather gravely concerned over how they would repay the loans they had collected for harvesting.
According to the Agriculture Department crops worth around Tk 13.38 crore have been damaged, inflicting losses worth about Tk 17.19 crore.
In light of increased demand, vegetables are grown around the year in different upazilas of the district, often right next to the pisciculture enclosures.
Commercially grown vegetables including gourd, sweet pumpkin, bitter gourd, cucumber, cluster beans, and zucchini are transported to Dhaka and different parts of the country. Winter vegetables are also grown in summer in the district where farmers’ dream of gaining profit this year has washed away with floods and rain.
Altaf Hossain, 60, a vegetable farmer of Durgapur village, said he cultivated cucumber, bitter gourd and cluster beans on four bighas of land after taking a loan of Tk 1.5 lakh.
“The plants were growing well but currently they started to die due to water stagnation for several days. Already most of the plants are dead,” he said, very concerned over the loan stress he now faces.
Another such farmer, Sujon Mandal, said his family lost vegetables farmed on seven bighas of land, which was the only source of their daily bread.
Swapna Nari Mandal, a woman farmer who cultivated vegetables on five bighas of land this year, is now grappling with unexpected losses that will put a strain on her family expenses.
Farmers like Mohadeb Mandal, Bijon Hira, Bikash Mandal and many more bear the same story and took large sum of loan to cultivate on their lands which was the key to running their households.
“We can’t sustain without government’s help this year,” one of them said.
Official of Chitalmari Upazila Agriculture Department Hrituraj Sarkar, said crops worth Tk 13.37 crore were damaged in Chitalmari upazila.
Deputy Director of Bagerhat Agricultural Extension Department Raghunath Kar, said they are suggesting that farmers plant saplings in polythene bags for cultivation to recover the damages.
“No land should remain abandoned. Recommendations have been sent to the government for stimulus packages to affected farmers,” he said.
According to the Bagerhat Agricultural Extension Department, total of 244,097 farmers were affected while 1,38,000 hectares of crop fields were damaged in flood this year.