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Dhaka Tribune

Matia: Crops worth over Tk700cr damaged by rats

Update : 21 Jun 2015, 08:31 PM

Food grains, including paddy, rice and wheat, worth around Tk723.72 crore were damaged by rats in the 2015-16 fiscal year, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury told parliament yesterday.

Responding to a question by ruling party lawmaker M Abdul Latif, the minister said the extent of loss of paddy at current market price totalled over Tk439.82 crore in the outgoing fiscal year as some 237,744 tonnes of paddy were damaged by rats.

She told the House that the rats also damaged around 62,764 tonnes of rice, of which the current market price is over Tk200.84 crore.

Some 29,660 tonnes of wheat were also damaged, amounting to an estimated loss of over Tk83.04 crore at current market price.

According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), around 5-7% of the rat-damaged crops is Aman rice, 4-12% wheat, 5-7% potato and 6-9% pineapple.

According to International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), rats have been estimated to damage more than 1% of the world cereal crops and, in developing countries, estimates of 3-5% have commonly been reported.

IRRI also said rats consume about 25g of food per day and mice eat approximately 3-4g per day.

According to an IRRI research report, the amount of rice damaged by rats in Asia a year is equal to the amount of food consumed by 180 million people annually; in Bangladesh, that amount is equal to food annually consumed by 5-5.4 million people.

The DAE Agriculture Extension Department usually conducts rat extermination drives in August. A total of 13,939,986 rats were killed in 2013 in one such drive.

Rats part of food chain

Despite the damaging effects of rat infestation, experts believe that rats have their own role to play.

Pavel Partha, an ecology expert, said there are many communities in Bangladesh who heavily rely on collecting rice from rat holes. “It is not possible that rats are causing much damage. Bagdi and Mosohor communities depend on collecting rice from rat holes all year to feed. Similarly, Santal and Muda people collect Aman rice for rat holes.”

Exterminating rats by poison or other means is not the solution, nor is it possible to achieve, Pavel further said.

“Rat is a very important element of food cycle and food pyramid. So, eradication of any element from the food cycle will simply destroy the natural harmony of ecology. So, projects should be undertaken to find out why the rat population increases – where the problem lies – and then actions should be taken accordingly. Killing them is not the soluting.” 

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