Rice import is not required unless flood situation worsens or cyclones hit
The devastating floods have damaged various crops including Aus, Aman, jute, and vegetables worth Tk1,323 crore in the country.
The floods submerged some 1.59 lakh hectares of agricultural land in 37 districts of the country in three phases which affected a total of 12,72,151 farmers, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Ministry of Food has taken preparation to import rice to avoid a food crisis in the country. The higher authority of the government has already agreed in principle to import rice.
However, Agriculture Minister Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque on Wednesday said that the government took different initiatives to reduce the Tk1,323 crore damage by the floods between June 25 to July 8, July 11 to July 19, and July 28 to August 12.
“We are not fearing a food crisis in Bangladesh due to the flood. But if the flood situation worsens or another disaster like cyclone hits the country, then the situation may force us to import rice. Otherwise, rice importing will not be necessary,” he said.
“We are prepared to spend Tk82.54 crore to implement separate projects to assist the farmers,” he added.
The agriculture minister came up with the remarks at a virtual press briefing on Wednesday.
The minister said: “The government took all the preparation necessary to import rice as without preparation it is difficult to import rice quickly.”
Describing the initiatives taken by the Ministry of Agriculture to recover the losses, he said: “Initiatives are underway to reduce the losses by making alternative seedbeds and cultivating substitute crops.
“We are compensating the farmers so that they can go for production immediately after the flood,” he added.
Damage statistics and recovery initiatives
The Ministry of Agriculture estimates that the floods damaged 72.21 thousand hectares of Aus paddy field causing losses worth Tk334 Crore, 70.82 thousand hectares of Aman paddy field causing losses worth Tk 380 Crore as well as 7.91 thousand hectares of Aman seedbeds causing losses worth more than Tk1Crore.
Besides, the flood destroyed summer vegetables on 10,000 hectares of land that caused losses worth Tk235 crore and damaged mature jute worth Tk211 Crore, according to the estimate of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Vegetable growers suffered the biggest losses from the flood that began early August resulting from heavy rains, followed by jute, Aus, and Aman paddy producers in the flooded areas.
The agriculture minister said: “We have already started a rehabilitation project at a cost of Tk17.54 crore to support the 39,631 farmers. We have taken another project worth Tk65 crore to assist 9.29 lakh affected farmers to produce wheat, nuts, mustard, sunflower, onion, chilli, and tomato etc.”
“Around 50,000 farmers will be provided with fertilizer and seeds of Maskolai worth Tk3.82 crore if they fail to produce Aman in flood-stricken areas,” he said.
Besides, the ministry has initiated a program spending approximately Tk70 lakh to plant saplings of Ropa Aman on floating beds.
The Ministry of Agriculture Secretary Md Nasiruddin said: “Around 68% of the flood affected small farmers have already got free saplings of Aman to plant through rice trans-planter under a project.”