Things that make you to Think

PART IV (ii) – The old ways no longer pay

Most of the land which were once used for salt cultivation in Teknaf, some 80km south of Cox’s Bazar, are now to be found vacant.

“Almost seven years ago, the price for 40kg salt was Tk250-300 which is now Tk100. The salt cultivators are left counting huge losses,” said Mizanur Rahman.

Teknaf was once also famous for betel leaf cultivation, but now for many years the farmers have had a hard time making a living from it.

“About eight years ago, we spent around Tk3.5 lakh for 10,000 betel plants from which we earned Tk6-7 lakh. Today, the cost remains the same as before but now we barely earn Tk1-1.5 lakh,” Md Zubair told the Dhaka Tribune at the Noapara Bazar one Sunday, a weekly haat day for betel leaf.

The situation of supari (areca nut) cultivation is also the same.

In addition, during the last few years, labour cost has gone through the roof, said several farmers.

The Teknaf upazila agriculture officer Abdul Latif told the Dhaka Tribune: “For many years now, the agriculture business has not been good enough due to political unrest in the country, while irrigation is the remaining main problem for cultivation here.”

Day by day the agricultural land has been decreasing rapidly due to a lack of sufficient irrigation system, while due to climate change and high temperature most of the land is affected by severe salinity, he said.

During the rainy season, Aman rice is cultivated on 11,000 hectares of land in the area, but this goes down to only 1,200 hectares during the Boro season because of irrigation crisis, he added.

As the agriculture business has become less profitable, people lose hope of earning a living from it.

During our investigation, several farmers told the Dhaka Tribune that they are afraid to continue cultivation as they see no hope for the future.

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