Floods in Bangladesh cut rice harvest by more than 2 million tonnes

Unprecedented floods in Bangladesh
between July and September have caused rice harvest losses of 2.2 million tonnes, according to a Special Report issued by FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP). Monsoon rice production is 20 percent less than in 1996, the last normal year.

The first flood warnings were issued at the beginning of July when exceptionally heavy rains in the basin areas of three of the country's biggest rivers - Brahmaputra, Ganges and Meghna - caused water levels to rise rapidly in the downstream flood plains of Bangladesh.

"During the next two months, three major floods occurred and about 50 percent of the country was under water for periods of up to 67 days, at depths of up to three metres" according to the report. "Devastation was caused, not only to cropped areas, but also to rural people, their homes and their livestock."

Cereal import requirements for 1998/99 are estimated at about 4 million tonnes. Commercial imports - by the government and the private sector - are put at about 2.5 million tonnes. International assistance is required for the balance of 1.5 million tonnes. Bangladesh is classified as a low-income food-deficit country and has a population of 122 million people.

(Go to the full Special Report.)

20 November 1998

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