Two spells of floods this season have ruined the hope of several thousand fish farmers in Manikganj as fishes of more than one-third of their ponds have been washed away.
As per the district fisheries office, around 3,500 fish farms have been affected by the floods. More than 2,000 tonnes of fish and around 79 tonnes of fry has been washed away, causing a loss of over Tk42 crore to the farmers.
Additionally, floods have caused infrastructural damage to several ponds.
The farmers have demanded introduction of interest-free or low-interest loans to enable them to overcome the losses they incurred due to recent floods.
The district Relief and Disaster Management Department said the first spell of floods hit the district on June 27, that lasted till July 7. The second spell continued from July 11 to August 11. Around 5,000 out of 14,500 ponds in the district were inundated during the floods.
Although the first spell caused less damage, most of the low-lying areas of the district, except some unions in Singair upazila, were submerged during the second spell, causing huge losses to farmers, it added.
Habibur Rahman, a farmer from Saturia's Dhankora union, said he dug six ponds for fish farming after taking 15 bighas of land on lease. His ponds were not submerged during the first spell as those are located on comparatively high land. But in the second spell, most of the fish were washed away by flood waters.
"I spent Tk6 lakh to farm Tilapia, Pangas and silver carp in the ponds. At the beginning of floods, I sold fish worth Tk60,000 in a hurry. But one night all the fishes were washed away even after being enclosed with nets," he said.
He demanded that the government should introduce interest-free or low-interest loans so that the farmers could recover from such huge losses.
Saiful Islam, a farmer from Daulatpur upazila, said he has been commercially cultivating fish in four ponds for two decades. Due to the sudden rush of flood waters, he did not get any chance to catch fish from the ponds. Additionally, a huge rush of waters also damaged the banks of two of his ponds.
He also sought incentives from the government.
Binoy Haldar, a farmer from Harirampur Upazila, said his two ponds were submerged by the sudden rush of waters in the River Padma. Despite multiple attempts, the fish of the ponds, which was cultivated by taking loan from an NGO, could not be saved.
He expressed his worry about repaying the loan of the NGO as he lost all his investment due to the flood.
Manikganj Fisheries Officer Dr Muniruzzaman said, "We have prepared a list of flood-damaged ponds and fish farms and sent it to the department concerned. If there is any opportunity for easy terms loan or incentives to compensate losses, it must be given to the affected farmers."