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Floods leave huge agricultural damage in their wake

The South Asian floods, which killed more than 1,000 Bangladeshis this year and made millions homeless, have left a great deal of agricultural damage in their wake. Two-thirds of Bangladesh was hit by the floods, resulting in a massive loss of crops.

Reuters has reported that nearly 2.6 million tonnes of agricultural produce have been lost, including about 1.4 million tonnes of rice, Bangladesh’s main staple crop. Shamsul Alam, director general of the Department of Agricultural Extension has said the amount of losses “are almost impossible to overcome".

This is a serious problem for the many families whose cultivable land has been submerged by the floods. With the destruction of their crops and seed beds, huge numbers of farmers have lost their only source of income. As a result, many have no means of purchasing seeds and fertilizer to plant during the winter season.

Concern’s response

Up to now, Concern has mostly been responding to the immediate needs of people affected by the floods, distributing emergency food and non-food relief items to 106,317 families. Concern is now planning its rehabilitation phase, aimed at helping affected families get back on their feet. A vital part of this work will involve assisting the farmers whose crops have been destroyed.

Concern’s rehabilitation work will target the very poorest farmers – those who are unable to restart their agricultural activities without outside support. Concern is planning to give a cash grant to 24,900 flood affected farmers, enabling them to purchase fertilizer. Wheat, pulse, and vegetable seeds will also be distributed. This will help these families to begin farming again, in turn re-establishing their basic source of income. Though the floods are already slipping out of the headlines, the struggle to rebuild people’s lives is just beginning.