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Saturday, November 17, 2007
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Cyclone ravages 95pc crops in 11 districts

Shrimp hatcheries badly hit

A hapless farmer at his paddy field at Mongla in Khulna yesterday. Hurricane Sidr extensively damaged the standing crops in the area.Photo: Focus Bangla

Around 95 percent standing crops in 11 coastal districts have been affected badly by the hurricane Sidr, agriculture ministry sources said.

They said farming of shrimp and cattle were also damaged by the hurricane.

Economists feared the Sidr would take its toll on the livelihood of ultra-poor people, as inflation rate will increase.

They suggested increasing funds for different social safety net programmes and initiating rehabilitation activities immediately.

Ayub Mia, acting secretary of the food and disaster management ministry, in a press conference yesterday said Aman cultivation might be hampered due to the hurricane.

An agriculture officer of Golachipa upazila under Patuakhali district said, "We have been able to save people...but we didn't have the ability to save their crops, cattle and other resources."

Meanwhile, our Noakhali correspondent reported that Aman crops on at least 23,000 acres of land were damaged by the hurricane.

In Manikganj, cultivation of potato, cabbage, onion and mustard seed on 15,000 acres of land was affected seriously, according to our district correspondent.

Shrimp hatcheries in Satkhira, Khulna and Cox's Bazar were badly hit by the hurricane.

"Shrimp industry could be the major victim of Sidr," Enayet Kabir, president of Shrimp Hatchery Association of Bangladesh, told The Daily Star.

He said it is difficult to estimate the losses at the moment, as they are yet to contact field level shrimp farmers.

Field preparation for salt farming, which was to start shortly, also suffered a setback. "All field level preparations in Cox's Bazar, Moheskhali and Teknaf were damaged by the hurricane," Yakub Ali Montu, proprietor of Habib Salts of Chittagong, said.

Zaid Bakht, research director of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, said, "Poor people will become poorer as inflation rate will increase due to the Sidr."

He said farmers were currently trying to recover their losses caused by two recent floods.

Bakht said the government should allocate more funds in social safety net programmes by cutting this year's Annual Development Programme.

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