Demands for vegetables such as sweet corn, lettuce, lemon grass etc have died down during the shutdown, causing the high-priced vegetables rot in the fields
Foreign vegetables worth lakhs of taka, grown in Shibganj upazila of Bogura, are being fed to cows as upscale restaurants of the country have remained closed due to coronavirus shutdown.
Demands for vegetables such as sweet corn, lettuce, lemon grass etc have died down during the shutdown, causing the high-priced vegetables rot in the fields.
Farmers who had invested their money in such crops have incurred massive losses and are now in misery.
Deputy Director at Department of Agriculture Extension Md Abul Kashem Azad said, "These crops are playing a big role in boosting the economy of the country."
"Although these vegetables are not under our jurisdiction, we have provided seeds and fertilizers to the farmers as subsidies," Azad added.
Farmers of Shibganj grow such crops and supply those to various upscale restaurants in Dhaka, Chattogram and other parts of the country.
These food shops use vegetables to create dishes of various foreign cuisines to please the taste buds of the countrymen and foreigners alike.
As these restaurants are closed due to the coronavirus restrictions, the vegetable farmers are not able to sell their produce. As a result, they are incurring losses of lakhs of taka. And having no other alternative, they are clearing out their fields and feeding these exotic vegetables to the livestock.
Mostafizur Rahman, a resident of Mokamtola union of Shibganj upazila, cultivated such vegetables on 22 bighas of land. He cultivated Thai ginger in 8 bighas and sweet corn in another 8 bighas of land.
Unable to sell the vegetables due to the shutdown, he now cannot even hire labourers to throw away the vegetables and clear his fields as this will cost him more money.
Mostafizur Rahman said, "I have incurred losses of about 10 to 12 lakh taka on sweet corn alone. The vegetables are rotting in the fields and I cannot hire people to clear the fields as it will cost me more money."
"I have asked the people of my village to take these vegetables and feed them to their cows. Doing such will at least help me clear my fields."
"The cows are feeding on vegetables worth taka 30 to 40 lakh. The seeds of these vegetables are as costly as the vegetables themselves. We are saving the country crores of taka in remittance by cultivating these vegetables here or else people would have to import these from abroad," Mostafizur added.
Mostafizur said that the government must facilitate the cultivation of such vegetables.
People working on the fields have also fallen into dilemma.
One such worker Abdur Rahman said, "We can see the owner does not have any income right now as he cannot sell the vegetables. How can we ask for our payments from him in such circumstances?"
"But we have our families to look after and if this continues our families will suffer as well," added Abdur Rahman.