36 districts, mostly Boro growers in haor areas, were affected in the recent nor’wester and the heatwave that swept over the country on April 4.
Boro paddy produced by 303,620 farmers faced damage and over 3 lakh of them live in Kishoreganj, Netrokona, Mymensingh, Sunamganj, Moulvibazar, and Barishal districts, according to an estimate of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE).
The heatwave took a severe toll on the farmers who grew Boro paddy in Kishoreganj and Netrokona.
Some 21,548 hectares of crops, including Boro paddy, corn, sunflower and peanuts, were affected in the natural disasters, said Md Mizanur Rahman, additional director of the field services wing of the DAE.
“Boro paddy cultivated on an area of 21,292 hectares were partially or fully damaged,” he said, adding that 95,934 tonnes of rice could have been produced from the affected paddy.
The key crop on around 16,297 hectares of land was damaged in the haor areas alone, affecting 134,425 farmers, Rahman said.
This year, farmers cultivated Boro paddy on 48.83 lakh hectares of land, up 3 per cent year-on-year. The government has targeted to ensure the production of 2.05 crore tonnes of rice.
Agriculturists and food experts said the damage would impact food security as Boro paddy contributes more than half of the total rice production in Bangladesh. Consumers are already paying the highest price to buy coarse rice.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, consumers in Dhaka city had to count 27 per cent higher prices from that a year ago for a kg of coarse rice at Tk 45 in March.
DAE officials, however, said the extent of the damage in the haor areas was comparatively low. The impact is severe in plain lands.
The government is planning to provide cash incentives or other benefits to the affected Boro farmers so that they can recoup the loss, said several officials at the DAE.
Similar assistance may be provided to the farmers if they become affected while cultivating Aus or Aman paddy. Some affected farmers may be given cash incentives, they said.
Md Asadullah, director of the field services wing of the DAE, said the agency had sent a primary proposal to the agriculture ministry.
“The ministry will decide on the matter soon.”
According to DAE officials, crops worth Tk 5 crore might have been damaged.
“There have been some damages. But it will have no impact on our food security,” said Asadullah.
“Farmers have grown Boro paddy on 56,000 hectares more land than our target this year.”