Flooding has damaged crops, worth about Tk 1,323 crore, on 1.58 lakh hectares of land in 37 districts, Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque said yesterday.
Expressing concern over the matter, he said any further deterioration in the flood situation or occurrence of any other natural disaster would be a severe blow to
the country’s food production.
“The measures taken by us is enough to mitigate the loss caused by floods if the overall flood situation does not worsen further. The loss will not have any impact on our food production,” Razzaque said.
Speaking at a virtual press briefing, he said it is time now for sowing Aman seedlings, but flood water level is rising in some areas which is worrying.
The minister said in the worst case scenario the government has planned to cultivate Robi crops instead of Aman paddy on lands badly affected by floods.
Even if the flood water recedes now, the possibility of drought and storms hitting parts of the country in October and November remains, which could hamper rice production, he added.
“If there is drought, Aman paddy would develop blast. On the other hand, there are instances that storms hit the country in November.”
Razzaque, however, insisted that there would be no food shortage in the country.
Replying to a question, Agriculture Secretary Md Nasiruzzaman said they are estimating that the production of Aman paddy would drop by one lakh tonnes this year.
“But we’ve harvested three lakh tonnes of surplus Aush crop. Therefore, we won’t face any shortage,” the secretary said.
The minister said floods hit the country thrice this year. In the first phase, 14 districts were affected between June 25 and July 9. About 343,957 farmers were affected and crops worth about Tk 349 crore damaged.
In the second and third phases, Razzaque said, 37 districts were hit by flooding between July 11 and August 12. About 929,194 farmers were affected and crops worth about Tk 974 crore damaged.
Aush paddy on 32,213 hectares, Aman on 70,820 hectares, and Aman seedbeds on 7,918 hectares were worst affected in the floods, according to agriculture ministry statistics.
The minister said they have already taken up a Tk 17.54 crore rehabilitation programme for 239,631 farmers. As part of the programme, they have begun distributing vegetable seeds among 151,600 farmers.
He said his ministry has planned to launch free distribution of black gram seeds among farmers in some flood-hit areas if they cannot cultivate Aman. “Black gram seeds worth about Tk 3.82 crore will be distributed among 50,000 farmers.”
Besides, the ministry has planned to provide free agricultural materials to 929,194 farmers to grow wheat, mustard, ground nuts, sunflower, lentils, onion, chili, and tomato.
The programme is in the works and the ministry will need another Tk 65 crore to implement it, Razzaque said.