Crops on 1.12 lakh hectares of land have been submerged by flood waters in Bangladesh’s north and north-east since April but the government response to the unimaginable sufferings of people, especially farmers, living in these areas is appalling. The areas had already been flooded at least four times since April because of onrush of water from the upstream. In Sylhet, Sunamganj, Kurigram and Lalmonirhat, as New Age reported on Monday, according to the Department of Agricultural Extension, 5,733 hectares of transplanted aus and aman seedbeds and vegetables were submerged between July 2 and July 10. Transplanted aus seedbeds on at least 27,188 hectares in three hill districts of Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban went under water between June 9 and June 25. Between May 17 and May 22, at least 175 hectares of crops were submerged in Habiganj and Narayanganj, says the DAE report. Usually, most of the farmers replant their aus and aman crops to recover their losses. While doing this, they face insurmountable economic hardship. It is even more worrisome that the government is in the habit of denying that there is any crisis among these flood-affected farmers while it should address the concerns of these people.
It is imperative for the government, at the moment, to take steps to provide the seeds and other inputs for the affected farmers through the Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation. Any unfortunate delay in the distribution of seeds and other inputs to farmers, needless to say, would aggravate the sufferings of the farmers. What is more important, under the circumstances, for the government is to see that the supplies composed of these items can reach the affected areas in no time and the instructions of distribution are effectively followed through to mitigate the sufferings of these people. The government must not be content with the distribution of these supplies alone. It should also come forward to the rescue of the farmers, with supports of various types, financial and otherwise, so that they could make up for, if not overcome, the losses. In addition to this, the government should also take precautionary measures to alert health officials to the impending danger after the flood water would recede so that any disaster can be averted.
It is now imperative for the government to work out, and immediately execute, a mitigation and rehabilitation plan, focused on proper distribution of these supplies and financial packages among the affected farmers and ordinary people through the government network that involves agricultural, health and disaster management officials. The government should also alert its road and embankment construction and maintenance officials so that the affected people could get back to their normal life in a short span and without any hassles. The government is also well advised not to just have such a plan in place but also to see that all supplies can reach these people, especially the poor farmers, who have been affected.
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