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Food crisis threatens thousands

Slow response to floods puts many at risk, say farmers

A  farmer stands in a devastated cornfield (Photo Abdul Khaleque) A farmer stands in a devastated cornfield (Photo Abdul Khaleque)
  • ucanews.com reporters, Kurigram, Bogra and Dhaka
  • Bangladesh
  • October 24, 2012
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Lack of support from the government and aid groups has left tens of thousands facing acute food shortages after recent floods ravaged their crops, farmers say.

Heavy rain at the end of last month forced more than half a million people to flee their homes.

“The flooding has destroyed the only source of rice my family has for the whole year," farmer Hamidul Islam told ucanews.com. "I don’t know what we will eat while we wait for next year’s harvest.”

Islam lives in Kurigram, the worst hit district in the northwest.

He said he has had to resort to fishing to survive as he can’t find casual work to support his family. Many more in his district and in others across the country face a similar situation.

Besides emergency relief, farmers say they need new seeds to sow before the new planting season begins  in winter.

Giasuddin Ahmed, a  deputy director with the Disaster Management Department in Dhaka said the government  is aware of their problems and is doing its best to try and help all of them.

Citing reports from  district officials, he said that the flooding last month affected a total of 1.7  million people, destroying 111,584 homes and 230,565 hectares of farmland.

At least six people were killed, 500 injured and around 800 head of cattle lost, he added.

“We have provided initial support to victims. About 6,225 metric tons of rice, 12.2 million taka [about US$150,000], 40,000  items of clothing and 5,000 food parcels were distributed  among victims through our district offices,” Ahmed added.

The Agricultural  Extension Department is currently trying to establish how many people need  assistance, he added.

Abdul Hamid, a farmer  from Sirajgonj district, also in northern Bangladesh, said the government’s response to the floods has been agonizingly slow; he had yet to see an agricultural  official.

“We won’t be able to  recover without timely support,” he said.

Related reports

Floods  ravage north and south districts

Thousands  still stranded by floods
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