In recent years, the amount of yearly rainfall has increased by almost three times in the villages resided at Tahirpur Border area, Sunamganj, Sylhet. Such altering rainfall pattern and heavy rainfall cause more preceding flash floods and ruins the local harvest to a greater extent. It also depletes soil fertility by carrying sand and filling the lands with it. Such climate change not only affects crop productivity but also overthrows farmers’ economic sustenance and resilience with the weather.
Describing the conditions, freedom fighter and local veteran farmer Tansen Sangma says, “The high flow of sand in the rainfall during the rainy season clogs the local streams or canals causing inundation to the arable lands here. Flash floods ravage our paddy fields and induce a huge yield loss every year. I had to sell my cows to make up for the loss incurred in past times. Many fellow farmers gave up farming facing such losses; some started picking coal from the local Jadukata River, and some migrated to the towns to look for day labour jobs. For many of us, this burden of loan and liabilities probably would last for rest of our lives.”
It is not the only yield of paddy, but also the yield of other crops such Mustard and Nut has declined drastically than the previous times. “Most Bils (wetlands) in the area is now filled with sand. On the other side of border, there are thousands of rat-hole mines. Due to those rat-holes, along with the rainwater – flows a certain reddish sandy soil from the hills and covers up the croplands. Such soil is quite unsuitable for agriculture and farming, because it becomes hard like a stone when it dries. Thus, the land has lost its softness and decaying the expected yield of a crop in our village”, says another local farmer, Abdul Majid.
Previously, the farmers used to get at least 320 Kg of paddy from one Ker (30 Shatak or 0.3 Acre) of land. But now the yield is reduced to 200 to 240 Kg from per Ker. Farmers are now necessitated to spend more on chemical fertilisers, pesticides and water.
The scenario is not so different in nearby villages as well. “The arable lands further endure high insertion of sand, and flash flood occurrences in Manigaon and Badaghat village following a reduction in yield of potato. Ten years ago, the local farmers would get 2,400 to 3,200 Kgs of potato from one Ker of land. But now it has declined to 1,600 to 2,000 Kgs per Ker”, states local farmers Shahed Ali and Abdul Kader.
“In recent years, we have observed an unexpected decline in the yield of various fruits including Mango, BlackBerry, Jackfruit, Litchi and Coconut as well”, adds farmer Dhirandra Hajang from Hajang Para village. “We are not getting expected return in terms of our investment and hard work. Many farmers here are on the same boat.”
“And the more climate changes, it is apparent that the condition will get more serious and threatening for us. But what to do? It has already exceeded our capacity to cope up with it.”