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200 Nalbari villages reel under crop loss

Nalbari, Oct. 10: Farmers in 200 villages of Nalbari district have suffered heavy losses with the recent floods destroying rabi crops in the plains of Brahmaputra, Burhadiya, Pagladiya and Nona rivers.

Ganesh Barman, a farmer of Mugdi village, said, “The two recent devastating waves of floods have inundated our croplands and destroyed all our standing rabi crop, including paddy and jute. The natural fodder grown in the river plains has also been buried under a thick layer of loam, as result of which our domestic animals are unable to graze.”

Hazrat Ali, a farmer of Diruah, said, “We had invested our precious money to sow rabi seeds and some farmers had planted edgings of brinjal, tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, gourd, bitter gourd and pumpkin. Some had started selling their first cycle of produce just before the start of the second wave of floods. But all the crops in the fields have perished in the water.”

Kuddus Ali, 42, a farmer of Gamarimuri Pahalongpara village, said he would again sow the seeds of rabi crop in the second week of this month. The crop would be late by two months, as the saplings raised in August and September were destroyed in the first and second wave of floods. It will take at least 90 days to harvest these crops, which means he can take the first cycle of rabi crops to the market only in December.

At least Kuddus Ali is thinking of growing another rabi crop. Bhangra Sheikh, 60, a poor farmer of Bhanganmari Char, whose seven-member family is dependent on the chilli crop grown every year on his three-bigha land, 200m from the Brahmaputra, has lost his entire chilli seedlings in the flood waters and has no money to invest again, thus pushing his family to a grave economic crisis.

“Investments in agriculture have doubled. The cost of fertilisers has doubled. Diesel prices are being raised every year. Seed prices have also been increasing at an alarming rate. Ten grams of hybrid tomato seeds cost Rs 850 now compared to Rs 500 in 2008. I had invested my entire savings to purchase tomato and chilli hybrid seeds. I cannot cultivate chillies and tomatoes again as I am penniless and a heart patient. If Allah will not help me, my children will die of starvation,” he added.

Gagan Barman, 39, of Barbhag Jhari village said, “The government had declared a Rs 200-crore compensation package for loss of crops in floods in the form of distribution of seeds and other agricultural benefits. But till date, we have not received the benefits. It will not be fruitful if the seeds are distributed late.”

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