Lashed by non-stop rain, Bagerhat’s ‘White Gold’ industry stands on the brink

Three days of torrential rainfall have plunged Bagerhat’s acclaimed ‘White Gold’ i.e. shrimp industry into jeopardy once again, with the combined losses in the sector estimated by the authorities at Tk 11 crore.

The ill-fated shrimp farmers of the south-western coastal district are no strangers to excessive rainfall, tidal waves, drought and other natural adversities in the course of a business year, leaving them with heavy losses. This year the pandemic has only increased the burden.

And now the shrimp farmers are demanding a share of the government’s stimuli program for specific industries to recover the damages.

According to Bagerhat Fisheries Department, 16,770 shrimp enclosures, pounds and crab enclosures were washed away in eight upazilas recently by tidal wave and heavy rain.

Kanai Mandal resident of Kainmari village in Mongla upazila said this time the water flowed 1-foot above the enclosures washing away all their nets to save the shrimps.

“Each farmer here lost a minimum of Tk 2-3 lakh worth shrimp and this kind of disaster happens at least twice or thrice every year,” said Kanai Mandal.

Abdur Rahman from Chandpai village said every year crisis of shrimp fries, virus in enclosures, price fall and natural calamities upsets the shrimp farming in this region.

Hit by Cyclone Yaas on May 26, shrimp farmers in Bagerhat incurred losses of upto Tj50 crore taka, said Anwar from Chila village.

Before they could recover from that, the recent heavy rains and tidal waves caused by low pressure created over Bay of Bengal drowned 9,000 enclosures in the area, he said.

According to the fisheries department there are 70,000 shrimp enclosures in the district and 65,804 people’s lives are dependent on shrimp farming.

Fakir Mahitull Islam, president of Bagerhat Shrimp Farmers’ association, said due to back to back losses many have now lost interest in shrimp farming here.

He demanded stimulus packages for farmers and bringing them under insurance policies to keep the shrimp industry alive in Bagerhat.

District Fisheries Department official ASM Russel said the total amount of losses had been estimated and a list of the farmers who incurred losses has already been sent to the higher authorities.

To save the enclosures from frequent tidal waves in future, farmers will need to deepen them and make the edges higher, he said.

“We are providing the farmers with necessary consultation to cope with the natural calamities,” Russel added.

Deputy Commissioner of the district Md Azizur Rahman said the list of the damaged farmers had been sent to the authorities, and hopefully the assistance will soon be forthcoming.

Source: United News of Bangladesh