Farmers in flood-hit Sunamganj are uncertain about cultivation in the upcoming season as the banks have yet to issue any directive as to whether the interest of the previous crop loans would be remitted and new crop loans would be offered without realising the unpaid loans.
The farmers said that borrowing money afresh from the banks was a must for them to cultivate crops in the next season after their half-ripen boro crops were damaged by flash-flood caused by onrush of water from India in late March.
Mentioning that the season of boro cultivation would start from October, the farmers alleged that they were still in uncertainty about new crop loans from the state-run and private banks as the bank authorities had so far issued no directive in this regard, though government promised for remission of interest and new crop loans.
Dhirendra Chandra Shil of Bhati Tahirpur under Tahirpur upazila said that they were certain microcredit lenders, including ASA, BRAC and Grameen Bank, would give no new loan to farmers who failed to repay the instalments of previous loans.
‘We will have no alternative to move to the cities leaving the ancestral homesteads for jobs, if the banks do not give us new crop loans causing us to cultivate boro crops in the upcoming season,’ Dhirendra said.
Banks officials in the district said that the higher authorities had asked them to keep suspended instalments of the crop loans after
the flash-flood. ‘No order to waive the interest has yet been issued,’ he said.
Karunasindu Talukder, chairman of Fenarbak union at Jamalganj upazila, said that the affected farmers already sold out their cattle and other sellable belongings to repay the instalments of microcredit alongside to arrange food for the family after the flash-flood that damaged massively the boro crops, the single annual crop in the haor region.
‘The farmers would not be able bear the costs of buying seeds, fertiliser and pesticides for growing boro crops in the next season without financial supports,’ he said.
Abdul Wahab, a farmer of Bishwambharpur upazila’s Muktirkhala village along Karchar Haor, one of the major wetlands in Sunamganj, said that the local moneylenders would not lend money to the poor farmers like him as most of the borrowers were yet to repay the previous loans.
Shanker Devnath, a sharecropper of Sultanpur village at Shalla upazila, said that he had to sell a bigha of his four bigha lands this year to repay Tk 30,000 crop loan borrowed from a local money lender.
‘I have to sell one more bigha of my land to grow boro crop, if I fail to get loan from any bank,’ he added.
Mangalkata Branch of Bangladesh Krishi Bank manager Sunil Kumar Mallik said that not instruction was issued so far for exempting the interest of previous loans and allocating new crop loans without realising the unpaid ones.
Bangladesh Krishi Bank KB, Sonali Bank, Janata Bank, Agrani Bank, Rupali Bank, Pubali Bank, Uttara Bank, National Bank, NCC Bank, Dutch-Bangla Bank, BRAC Bank, Mercantile Bank, Arab-Bangladesh Bank, Trust Bank, Bank Asia, Standard Bank, Karmasangsthan Bank, Islami Bank, Fast Security Islami Bank and BRDB had allotted crop loans of Tk 302.39 crore among 1,73,631 farmers of Sunamganj in 2016 and BKB alone lend Tk 201.18 among 96,177 farmers, sources in the Bangladesh Bank said.
Sunamganj Regional Branch of BKB deputy managing director Ajoy Kumar Saha admitted that they received no from the higher authorities.
‘We are expecting to receive the new directives over distribution of crop loan before October from the Bangladesh Bank as the prime minister Sheikh Hasina promised in different programmes,’ the bank official said.
According to the Department of Agricultural Extension, standing boro paddy of 1,66,612 hector out of 2,23,082 hector wetlands in Sunamganj was damaged by the flash-flood that affected 3.5 lakh farmer families.
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