Gazipur flood aftermath: Vegetable farmers troubled over damage to crops, lands

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A portion of cultivable land that has been damaged by this year’s flood in Gazipur Dhaka Tribune

According to the district agriculture office, seasonal vegetables were cultivated on 7,242 hectares of land, most of which has been damaged by this year’s floods

This year’s floods on top of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have left marginal farmers of Gazipur in great distress. Since the countrywide lockdown was first put in place, these farmers have counted nothing but losses.

Due to lack of customers, either wholesale or retail, since the beginning of the pandemic farmers had already been seeing their unsold crops rot in front of their very eyes.

On top of that, this year’s flood – hitting vulnerable districts including Gazipur in multiple phases – destroyed the standing crops and cultivable lands that were supposed to get the farmers back on track.

According to the district agriculture office, seasonal vegetables were cultivated on 7,242 hectares of land, most of which has been damaged by this year’s floods.

Sadiqur Rahman, a vegetable farmer from Bheramtali, said he had borrowed Tk6 lakh from several local loan sharks to plant seasonal vegetables on 1.7 acres. Now that all his earned crops have been destroyed, he is losing sleep over the burden of his debts.

“Before the floods, I had harvested sponge gourds and snake gourds on 8 decimals of land. But due to the lockdown in place, there weren’t many customers for my vegetables. I was forced to either sell them at a loss or give them away,” he said.

Faruk Sarkar, another farmer from adjacent Pirujali village, said he had similarly failed to sell off his snake and sponge gourds because of lack of buyers and he too had to give them away. “Subsequently, I had planted gourds on 1 acre that were all destroyed by the floods.”

The farmer added that he only needed Tk1 lakh to turn his luck around but he isn’t aware of any loan opportunities with low-interest rates. 

Mahbub Alam, deputy director, Department of Agricultural Extension in Gazipur, said: “We are conducting on-field surveys and compiling a list of all flood-affected farmers in the district and assessing the extent of their losses.”

Alongside the data collection, the department has already distributed necessary items including seeds, fertilizers, bamboo fences, and signboards to some 1,408 farmers so that they may begin to cultivate once again, he added.

Besides, vegetables and black gram are also being distributed under different programs to flood-affected families.

The official also added that farmers now have the opportunity to apply for loans at any local banks on easy terms. The agriculture department will provide the necessary assistance to farmers in this regard.

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