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Rats ate up Jum harvest in Bandarban

News No. 153/2008, September 30, 2008

Countless hordes of rats have eaten up the Jum harvest of the indigenous Jumma people in Ruma, Thanchi and Roangchari Upazila of Bandarban district, says a news report published on Tuesday in the daily Suprabhat Bangladesh, a Bengali daily published from Chittagong.

The report has warned of an acute crisis of food in these areas. It said “this correspondent visited some of the indigenous villages in Ruma and witnessed the distressing picture of the Jum cultivators.” Besides rat invasion, the wild bores were also responsible for the destruction of their Jum fields, it added.

Citing indigenous Jum cultivators in Ruma Upazila, the report said the assaults of the rats had increased after the last year’s bamboo flowering in their area. “The indigenous Jumias (Jum cultivators) said one year’s bamboo flowering leads to the massive growth of rat population for the next three years. After eating up the bamboo flowers, the rats carry out raids into the Jum fields and eat away the produces such as paddy, maize, potatoes and bananas.”

Sadeq Hossain Chowdhury, the writer of the report, said the deluge of rats rendered the Jum cultivators of Ruma Sadar, Remakri-Prangsha, Paindu and Galengya Unions almost destitute. “Many had borrowed money at a higher rate of interest in the hope that they would be able to pay it back after Jum harvest. The local public representatives have expressed concern about their future.” he said.

Quoting Jingsawm Lian Bawm, chairman of Remakri-Prangsha Union, he said “like in the preceding year, this year has also seen a rat invasion in his area. Added to this is the assault of wild bores in the Jum fields. Over three hundred Jumia families in his Union will face severe food crisis.”

According to his report, some of the affected villages are Floppy Para, Chakkyong Para, Thindolthey Para, Kaleha Para, Thanarang Para, Nishi Para, Jonarang Para, Hlaching Para in Remakri-Prangsha Union; Namdui Para, Paleng Para, Paroi Para, Monguha Para, Aunglai Para, Laipung Headman Para, Tongreng Pra in Gelengya Union; Moyur Para, Bot-toli Para, Rumachar Para, Samakhal Para, Naitong Para, Arjun Para, Manglengraw Para, Thandajhiri Para, Kaudong Para, Bogamukh Para, Moyu Para in Ruma Sadar Union; and Sanakraw Para, Charagraw Para, Poli Prangsha Para and Kyathai Para in Paindu Union.

Citing Chingsanu Marma, Member of Ward No. 9 of Paindu Union, the report said “as a result of a rat invasion Jum harvests including ripen paddy and maize have been destroyed in a number of indigenous villages under his Union.”

“The Karbari (village chief) of Pantol Para, Mr. Kolamaung, expressed concern that after one or two months many Jumia families will have to starve.” the report added.

Quoting Kyoching Aung, the Karbari of Moyur Pra in Ruama Sadar and Kyoching Pru Marma, the Karbari of Rumachar Para, the report further said: “rats and wild bores made their assaults at the time of harvest and destroyed the Jum produce including ripen paddy and maize. The little they could save is barely enough for two-three months’ consumption.”

To be able to cultivate their Jums, many indigenous people borrowed money at a higher rate of interest from government as well as non-government organisations, the report said quoting local newsman Nurul Islam. “Deeply concerned about repayment of the loans, many of them have given in to frustration.”

The report cited Ulhaching Marma, chairman of Ruma Sadar Union, and said: “As a result of a rat and wild bore invasion, many thousand families have lost their Jum harvest.”

Mr. Marma expressed concern that the victim families are at a high risk of facing severe food crisis, the report said.

chtnews.com is an independent and voluntary online news service dedicated to projecting and analyzing the current events in the Chittagong Hill Tracts from the perspective of the Jumma people’s struggle for the right to self-determination. For further information please contact at: chtnewsonline@gmail.com

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