Bangladesh: Repair embankments to save the South - Aila victims urge FAO

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Bangladesh, 12 Dec 2009 -- Khulna - Embankments should be repaired urgently to restore agricultural livelihoods in cyclone Aila affected areas, victims and local authorities of Dakope Upazila urged FAO today.

Sheikh Abul Hossain, the Upazila Chairman of Dakope - one of the worst affected areas of cyclone Aila, highlighted the urgent needs of people who lost everything on 25 May this year. Many of the distressed are still living in damaged houses and lack drinking water and necessary resources to resume a productive life.

The FAO Representative in Bangladesh, Ad Spijkers, his colleagues and local authorities, among others MP Engineer Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, were participating in a second round of input distribution in Dakope and Tala upazilas. FAO is currently implementing an agricultural rehabilitation programme in south-western districts, particularly Khulna and Satkhira.

FAO has distributed seeds of salt-tolerant rice variety (BRRI Dhan 47), mungbean, watermelon, maize, cowpea and vegetables together with fertilizers in Dakope and Tala upazilas this time. The number of small and marginal farmers in Aila affected areas benefitting from the assistance numbers more than 24 000 so far.

"The south has a huge potential for agricultural growth and supporting the national economy", commented the FAO Representative while addressing a large audience both in Dakope and Tala. "Good seeds produce good crops, and we are to ensure good agricultural practices including a balanced use of fertilizers", he added.

Mr Spijkers noted that the seeds were accompanied by adequate quantities of appropriate fertilizers under an ongoing agricultural support programme. While a good harvest of the present Aman season rice is expected, a priority concern was the need for repairing embankments in the affected areas, in time for the upcoming Boro cultivation season and to further ensure the successes of the rehabilitation efforts.

"The present government is committed to ensure low prices for agricultural inputs so that farming communities can engage in sustainable agricultural production and family income," said Engineer Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the local Member of Parliament of Tala. "We need an integrated system to optimize irrigation for the Boro season as well as for fish farming", he pointed out referring to persistent water logging in many unions and localities. He also emphasized on strengthening agricultural research activities for addressing salinity and changed climatic conditions in southern parts of Bangladesh.

"Farmers need support to restore their livelihood and agricultural production," stressed the FAO Representative. "Southern districts need good irrigation structures and water reservoirs to harvest freshwater during the monsoon season. This would enhance the potentials of the south but requires adequate investments and long term planning", he added.

The FAO Representative assured further support from FAO to assist the farmers and demanded attention and support from large development partners to mobilize funds for exploiting the potentials of southern agriculture.

Press release issued by the Office of the FAO Representative in Bangladesh.