Regional political group PCJSS-backed Parbatya Chattagram Pahari Chhatra Parishad has distributed rice among 665 families of the remote areas of Sajek in Rangamati who have been facing acute food shortage and economic hardship for the last couple of months.
Each of the families was given 20kgs of rice by Sajek Relief Assistance Committee, a body formed to raise funds and ease the sufferings of the Jhum farmers of Sajek in Baghaichhari, on Wednesday, says a press release.
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People who came to Sajek township to receive the rice had to walk for a day or more due to lack of transport, organisers say.
The CHT Affairs Ministry, Rangamati district administration, the army and the BGB, and a number of social and student organisations of the indigenous peoples and the Bangalis have given out rice and cash among the people since April, when the crisis reached its peak.
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Sajek people gather for relief/Dhaka Tribune[/caption]
This year’s crisis is a result of low production of jhum (slash-and-burn method), locals say.
Baghaichhari Upazila Chairman Bororishi Chakma, Sajek Union Chairman Joiboboi Tang Tripura, Baghaichhari Union Chairman Sunil Bihari Chakma and PCJSS leaders were present during the distribution of rice Wednesday.
They asked the government to continue food assistance until September when the new jhum crops would be harvested, and to devise plans to find a permanent solution.
Sajek Chairman Joiboboi expressed gratitude towards the student groups of different universities and colleges, and people of Rangamati Sadar and Naniarchar for their contribution.
Over 2,000 families of 20-25 remote villages in Sajek are facing the brunt of this year’s food shortage.
Price of coarse rice has gone as high as Tk90-110 a kg from Tk30-35 in Puran Jopui, Notun Jopui, Udolchhari, Puran Thangnong, Notun Thangnong and Tharum Para villages.
People need to travel around 15km to go to Machalong Bazar in Sajek Sadar to get rice and other goods at fair price. Because of this, many adivasis have resorted to feeding on alternatives like spuds and gourds.
The markets lying within the closer reach of those villages are situated in the Mizoram state of India. Opening up border haats in cooperation with India could have reduced the problem of rice price hike, suggested the locals.