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Dhaka Saturday,  Mar 25, 2023

Bangladesh Floods Threaten Harvests, Cattle


Falak Mia, a resident of Khaliajuri Upazila in Netrokona, wrestled with rising water to harvest nearly 30 tonnes of paddy from his flooded fields a month ago. His success meant he had enough rice for his family throughout the year and he could sell the rest to pay other costs.

Now all seems lost. The warehouse he had rented has gone under three to four feet of floodwater.

“I don’t know what’ll happen to the paddy that has gone under water. I have cattle, chickens and ducks at home. Where’d I go to with all these?” he said, trying to find answers himself.

The frustrated farmer then offered, “I’ve nowhere to go. Everything is ruined this time.”

His neighbour Ripon Sarker said he kept his eight cows at a higher place to save them from floodwater. He stays with the cattle to stop them from being stolen.

Ekdil Mia prepared one of his four cows with the hope of making good money during Eid-ul-Azha and using the cash to support his family and repay debts.

He took the cattle to a place outside the government bungalow in the area after his home was submerged two days ago. He is staying with the cattle while his family took shelter at Khaliajuri College.

“My rice straw pile [cattle feed] is submerged. How shall I feed the cattle? We don’t have the ability to buy cattle feed. The cows are getting thin.”

AHM Ariful Islam, executive officer of Khaliajuri Upazila, said the yields of this year’s harvest and the cattle have become a big headache for the residents of the flood-hit areas.

“Moreover, they don’t want to come to the shelters leaving the cattle and chickens behind. Many of them have taken their cattle and chickens to my office and the Upazila health complex for shelter.”

Sylhet Deputy Commissioner Md Mozibor Rahman said 31,000 cattle, along with 230,000 people, were provided refuge in around 500 centres in the district.

In Sunamganj Sadar, farmer Abdur Rahman said they came to a shelter leaving their cattle on the roof of the mosque in their village. “But we don’t have food.”

Kalipada Roy, the fisheries officer of Kurigram, said 115 tonnes of fish from 742 ponds owned by 705 farmers got out due to the floods.

An 11-year-old girl drowned in floodwater in Ulipur Upazila of the northern district, Civil Surgeon Manjur-e-Morshed said.

As thundershower continued in most parts of the country, three people died after being hit by lightning strikes in Cox’s Bazar, police said.

State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Enamur Rahman said the situation in Sylhet improved, but it remained unchanged in Sunamganj. Things turned for the worse in 10 other districts.

The army, navy and coastguards were helping the civil administration to evacuate people to shelters in the 12 districts, where around 4 million people have been stranded.

The Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre said the flood situation may deteriorate further and new areas in the central region may get affected.

The water of nine rivers was flowing above the danger mark at 18 out of 109 points monitored by the Water Development Board.

Minhaz Ahmed Shobhon, sub-divisional engineer of the Water Development Board in Habiganj, said swathes of the district were inundated after floodwater breached dams and destroyed parts of roads, cutting off a number of villages.

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