Fodder crisis has hit cattle farming hard in the country's flood-affected areas.
Almost all grazing land has been submerged and dry straw damaged by floodwater. So, farmers are dealing with a double blow as they have to buy fodder at high prices.
The government allocation for feed is insufficient than the demand, said farmers and the officials concerned.
Over 54 lakh people have so far been affected by flood in 161 upazilas of 33 districts across the country, says the latest report of the National Disaster Response Coordination Centre.
Our district correspondents report on the crisis and the cattle farmers' sufferings.
In Sirajganj, many people took shelter in flood centres as their houses were flooded. They are in a big trouble with their cattle.
"All the fields have been submerged. There is no place for cattle grazing. Besides, fodder prices are high. I am in a deep trouble with my two cattle," said Rejaul Karim of Shubhogacha village in Kazipur upazila.
Around 8,562 acres of grazing land have gone under water, while 770 tonnes of grass and 588 tonnes of straw damaged by flood, according to official data.
Over 1.33 lakh cattle are being reared in Manikganj. But the farmers are facing a huge trouble as there is a shortage of fodder and its high prices. The cattle are suffering from diseases too.
"I had three cattle, four sheep, and two goats. But I had to sell one of my cattle at a low price due to shortages of grass," said Abdul Karim, a cattle farmer of Charhijuli area in Sadar upazila.
In Nilphamari, the fodder crisis has added sufferings to the flood victims.
"Some of us have bought straw from distant places. But they are too costly," said Mozam Gazi of Uttar Kharibari village in Dimla upazila.
District Livestock Officer Monakka Ali said around 10,000 livestock were affected in the district.
In Bogura, over 1.1 lakh cattle are going through fodder crisis.
"I, with my family members and nine cattle, have been in Tekai Nagar Ashrayan Centre for around a month. Our house has been eroded. All the fields have been flooded and straw has been damaged," said Sultan Islam, of Hatbarir Char in Sariakandi upazila.
"Now, the condition of our cattle is deteriorating due to fodder shortages," he said.
District Livestock Officer Rafiqul Islam Talukdar said over 1.1 lakh livestock were hit by flood in the district. But they got only Tk 9 lakh from the government for fodder. The money was already distributed among the poor cattle farmers, he said.
Cattle farmers in Gaibandha are struggling to manage fodder as floodwater damaged grass fields. Over 35,000 cattle in the district are facing the crisis.
Flood-victim Joynal Abedin, of Kaowabadha Char in Fulchhari upazila, said, "I have 16 cattle. As grazing land are under water, I have to buy fodder at high prices. But I think I will not be able to afford it for long."
Abdus Samad, district livestock officer, said they got Tk 9 lakh from the government for fodder and the money was already disbursed.
In Sunamganj, around 7.39 lakh cattle are being reared for milk and meat, and use in agricultural work.
The flash flood struck thrice creating a huge fodder crisis, and the government support for fodder is inadequate.
Ashraful Alam, a farmer of Dakshinkul village in Tahirpur upazila, said, "We have four cattle. As everything is flooded, there is an acute shortage of grass, and we don't have much dry straw left."
However, the officials concerned claimed that fodder were distributed among those who are actually in need. But many poor farmers said they did not get any government help.
Fodder, worth Tk 8 lakh, has so far been distributed, according to the district administration.
There are around 24 lakh cattle, buffalo, goat, and sheep in Lalmonirhat and Kurigram. Farmers are struggling hard to manage green fodder, especially grass and paddy straw. Besides, prices of other fodder have gone up.
"Now, it needs at least Tk 500 to buy one maund [40kg] of hay. But its actual price was Tk 200 to Tk 250," said Meher Ali, of Char Asatami in Kurigram's Chilmari upazila.
[Our correspondents from Pabna, Manikganj, Nilphamari, Bogura, and Sylhet contributed to this report]