Dhaka, Dec 10 (bdnews24.com) -- Cyclone-affected farmers need a "package programme" instead of seed and fertiliser supplies to restore their livelihoods, Centre for Policy Dialogue and BRAC said in a joint report Monday.
"The package should include supply of seed, tilling equipment, low-lift pump for irrigation, fertiliser and seasonal credit for purchase of agricultural inputs," the report titled "Post-Sidr agricultural rehabilitation" said.
It said that irrigation facilities were almost absent and there was inadequate supply of tillage equipment and power pumps.
Mahbub Hossain, executive director of BRAC and Uttam Deb, senior research fellow of the CPD, prepared the report after consultations with the affected farmers.
They visited the four severely ravaged districts—Barguna, Bagerhat, Patuakhali and Pirojpur.
The farmers in the worst affected areas had lost their possessions, including the
crops that were almost mature, Hossain said in a briefing on the launch of the report at the CPD office.
"Supply of agricultural credit on convenient terms is very important," Hossain said. "Farmers ask for seasonal crop loans."
"They (farmers) are not interested in microcredit because they have to repay instalments on a weekly basis," said Hossain who represented BRAC, the world's biggest microcredit lender.
He suggested that Tk 4,000 to Tk 5,000 in seasonal crop loans per bigha (0.33 acre) of land be provided for farmers.
"Besides cash, they (farmers) need fertiliser, quality seed and irrigation to produce late boro/early
crops to make up for crop losses," he said.
Aman is the predominant source of staple food in the Sidr-hit areas.
The cyclone had caused substantial damage to standing crops amounting to nearly 11 lakh tonnes of rice. Earlier, two floods in August and September, had caused an almost similar damage to the crops, the CPD-Brac report said.
"An agricultural rehabilitation programme needs to be initiated immediately to generate employment and increase food output to minimise the effect of rising food prices and the level of food insecurity," Prof Mustafizur Rahman, CPD executive director, said.
He suggested that the government reset its priority work urgently.
"Agricultural rehabilitation must be given priority. The government can relocate funds from the annual development programme to agricultural rehabilitation," Rahman observed.
"Fish farmers ask for a loan of Tk 20,000 to Tk 50,000 for fish cultivation per each-bigha of the pond area. They can repay the loans over a period of two years, in monthly instalments, after a four to six month grace period," he said.
Uttam Deb said that landless people in the affected areas would have to be given employment facilities immediately.