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«J. Bangladesh Agril. Univ. 10(1): 107–118, 2012 ISSN 1810-3030 Farmers' perception about causes and remedies of Monga in Hatibandha upazila of ...»

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J. Bangladesh Agril. Univ. 10(1): 107–118, 2012 ISSN 1810-3030

Farmers' perception about causes and remedies of Monga in

Hatibandha upazila of Lalmonirhat district

J. R. Sarker1, M. R. U. Mian2 and S. S. Roy3


Department of Agricultural Economics, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University, 2Department

of Agricultural Finance, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh-2202, Bangladesh, 3Bangladesh Bank,,

Motijheel, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh. E-mail: jaba.rani@yahoo.com Abstract The present study was an attempt to analyze the farmers’ perception about causes and remedies of Monga in some selected areas of Lalmonirhat district of Bangladesh. In order to achieve the objectives, survey was conducted in three villages and one Char area in Hatibandha upazila of Lalmonirhat district. In total 90 samples were purposively taken of which 45 were from Char area, 25 from rural area, and 20 from urban area. The family size of the respondents revealed that medium family domination in Char area (the poorest area) is an indication of the consciousness of the poor people about population problem. Monga stricken people in terms of less consumption were higher in Char and rural areas compared to urban area. Lack of cultivable land, natural calamities, non- availability of working facilities at non-agricultural sector, lack of working facilities at agricultural sector due to natural calamities and lack of credit availability and high interest rate were opined by the researcher as their causes of Monga. On the other hand, beef fattening, petty business, plant nursery and poultry farming were addressed as the mitigating activities of Monga undertaken by NGOs. old-age allowance, Hundred-days job scheme and Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) programme were observed as Monga mitigating activities undertaken by GOs in the study area. The difference between the performance of GO and NGO in Monga mitigation was wider in Char area than that of in rural and urban areas. The higher performance of NGOs was due to their better identification, selection and supervision strategy with perfect information. Drawbacks like, corruption, lack of proper management, lack of adequate financial support, etc., might be responsible for the poor performance of GO mitigating activities of Monga in the study area.

Keywords: Monga, Perception, Causes of Monga and Remedies of Monga Introduction The total population of the country is about 164 million with the annual growth rate of 1.57 percent.

Population density of the country is about 1142 persons per square kilometer. The country is supplying to meet the basic need to its population from its net cultivable land which is estimated around 7.80 million hectares of which about 2.84 million hectares of cultivable land are single cropped, 3.98 million hectares are double cropped area and.98 million hectares are triple cropped areas with a cropping intensity of around 176 percent (BBS, 2008). The country has been struggling hard to feed its increasing population as food shortage is its salient feature. To feed the burgeoning population is a dire necessity to increase crop production. In Bangladesh, about 25 percent (of 140 million) people are hardcore/ultra poor and they face severe food insecurity every year. Of the total population, about 40.4 percent on people are living below the poverty line and 19.5 percent are estimated to belong to be hardcore poor (MoF, 2010).

People of Northern Bangladesh mainly in greater Rangpur are poor and underdeveloped than other parts of this country. It is restricted to the lean season preceding the Aman harvest in the Bangla months of Ashwin and Kartick. Also there is a second lean season before Boro harvest. As this lean season is usually less severe, it might be called little Monga. According to GOB (2005), about half of the populations live below the poverty line in terms of consumption base. A person having daily calorie intake of less than 2122 kilo-calorie is considered to be in absolute (HES) poverty and 1805 kilo-calorie in hardcore poverty (MoF, 2010). The number of poor was over 53 million but a minimum condition of living to ensure human dignity requires that in addition to food, housing, clothing, medicine, sanitation and education were taken into account in defining the poverty line.

Monga is not itself the cause of the problems, but the word used to describe the impact at household level of a combination of factors such as the reduction in day labour opportunities after the rice crop is sown and before the harvest, seasonal higher prices of basic food commodities, and the after-effects of monsoon flooding. According to Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) “Monga is a local term used to indicate acute deprivation caused due to the erosion of purchasing power from lack of gainful employment opportunities”.

108 Farmers' perception about causes and remedies of Monga Monga is seasonal food insecurity in ecologically vulnerable and economically weak parts of Northwestern Bangladesh, primarily caused by an employment and income deficit before Aman is harvested. In every year, severe food crisis popularly known as Monga occurs in the Northern part of Bangladesh; whereas in other parts of the country Akal is a more known term; both bearing the same meaning i.e., severe scarcity of food, mainly rice. This periodic food insecurity occurs during the preharvest period known as lean season for agricultural production. The agricultural lean period occurs twice a year lasting one to two months. This periodic food insecurity is more related to the traditional system of subsistence agricultural, feudal land tenure arrangements and exploitative loan and mortgage system in the rural credit market. Natural calamities like river erosion, cyclone, flood and drought just add to worsen such food crisis.

The WFP (World Food Programme) has identified the Monga prone area in Northern part of Bangladesh.

The districts of Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Rangpur, Gaibandha, Bogra and Serajganj are identified as most suffering area of food shortage during the lean seasons as shown in the Fig. 1.

The typical Characteristics of the food insecurity prone districts are: (i) Crops are in the field waiting to be harvested having no employments in the agricultural fields, (ii) the household level food stock is mostly consumed a mid inadequate supply of food grain in the market and (iii) the price of rice in the market is very high while the marginal farmers and the labourers run out of food and cash.

To have a clear understanding on the period of occurrence of Monga, it is necessary to have a look on the existing cropping patterns in the Monga region. Agriculture in the Monga region is not so diversified.

Usually there are 6 cropping patterns followed in the Northern region of Bangladesh which are shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Existing six different cropping patterns in Northern Bangladesh

–  –  –

Note: Shaded months are Monga period.

Source: Bithi, 2006.

The farmers now follow diversified crops in Boro season, but in no way they give up Aman production.

This causes joblessness in agricultural field in the month of September, October and November. Preharvest acute employment crisis during Aswin and Kartik (October-November) among the poor farmer causes occurrence of Monga. From the 3rd week of October to mid November, this famine like situation prevails. This situation continues up to harvesting period in December. This lean period exists for one or two months and ends by December at harvesting Aman. Monga also appears during Chaitra-Baishakha before harvesting of Boro, but its severity remains relatively lower.

Sarker et al. 109

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As Monga badly affects the livelihood of rural poor, it is a matter of humane. It is hopeful that GOs and NGOs like Polli Karma Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), Bangladesh Rural Development Board (BRDB), Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS), Grammen Bank, Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) etc., have taken initiatives to make Monga situation tolerable. Among the activities, awareness raising about Monga, various soft loan schemes during the lean period, introduction of new cropping patterns in Monga-prone areas, various saving programmes, introduction of different income generation

activities and assistance upon them etc. are markable. The specific objectives of the study are:

a) To identify the causes of Monga and people’s perception about it;

b) To assess the Monga mitigating activities in the study area; and

c) To make suggestions on the basis of the findings of the study.

Materials and Methods Methodology is of paramount importance in any scientific inquiry as the validity and reliability of the facts primarily depend upon the system of investigation. For this study, survey method was followed to collect data from the respondents. In this method, the researcher mostly relied on the memory of the respondents. This study endeavored to document the livelihood status of landless people of Monga stricken areas of Bangladesh. The recognized Monga hit districts are Kurigram, Gaibandha, Lalmonirhat, Nilfamari, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Thakurgaon and Panchagarh. Out of them Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Gaibandha and Nilphamari are severely affected ones. In Hatibandha upazila, agriculture is the main occupation of most of the residents of the villages. About 80 percent of the dwelling households depend on agriculture as the main source of income where other sources of income are non-agricultural labour, business and employment in GO and NGOs. Main occupations include agriculture 52.94 percent, commerce 6.02 percent, wage labourer 3.66 percent, service 3.56 percent, agricultural labourer 25.66 percent and others 8.16 percent (Banglapedia, 2003). There were various NGOs working in the study area to address the livelihood of Monga-affected people. Among them three organization namely BRAC, Grammen Bank and ASA were the leading NGOs. Out of these three organizations Grammeen Bank alone has details about information of Monga-affected livelihoods. A total of 320 farmers of the 4 selected villages contributed the population of the study. Thirty three percent of the populations were selected purposively to make the sample and therefore, some 90 people were selected. The above selected respondents were classified into three categories according to region because Monga affects the people in different regions by different ways. The categories of the respondents’ are- Char area, Rural area and Urban area.

The researcher herself collected necessary data through personal interview method from the individual respondents during 15 February 2009 to 30 March 2009. In the study, tabular method was followed to classify the collected data and to derive the meaningful findings. The local units were converted into standard units. The qualitative data were transformed into quantitative data by appropriate scoring techniques.

Results and Discussion Causes of and perception about Monga in the study area Respondents were asked why they suffered from Monga every year. They also requested to express their identified causes as low, medium and high manner. According to their answers five major causes were found. These were: lack of cultivable land, natural calamities, non-availability of working facilities at off farm sector, lack of working facilities at agricultural sector due to natural calamities and lack of credit availability and also high interest rate of credit. Table 2 reveals that respondents perceived lack of cultivable land as a high cause of Monga by 11.11 percent in Char area followed by 36.00 percent in rural area. Maximum of the respondents’ perception about lack of cultivable land as a cause of Monga was low in Char area and urban area (55.56 and 55.00 percent, respectively). No one was found to mention lack of cultivable land as a low cause of perception of Monga in rural area while it was the case as high cause of perception in urban area. On an average, 15.56 percent respondents opined that lack of cultivable land was the most important (high) cause of Monga in the study area. It is quite evident from the table that the Sarker et al. 111 respondents under rural area were in efforts to increase the size of cultivable land through various tenurial arrangements with a view to having more productions, while the Char and urban area didn’t do that because of lack of cultivable land in those areas. Moreover it was comparatively a very important cause in rural area as none of the respondent thought it with low perception.

Respondents’ medium perception about decrease of agricultural production due to natural calamities as a cause of occurring Monga occupied the highest percentage irrespective of areas under study.

Considering all respondents together medium perception ranked the highest (70.00 percent) followed by low perception 22.22 percent and high perception 7.78 percent in the Monga area under study (Table 2).

Natural calamity was not felt as very important cause of Monga in rural and urban areas under study. So, majority of the respondents in the study area thought above mentioned cause with medium perception.

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Service, business, day labour and van/rickshaw pulling were found to be the important sources of nonfarm income in the study area. Rural industries and services are of many kinds. But the usual types of it

found in rural Bangladesh are as follows:

(i) Production of low quality and cheap varieties of goods meeting certain kinds of needs using locally available raw materials (for example, beedi-making, bamboo work and earthenware production) (ii) Agro-processing such as rice milling and production of puffed rice (iii) Transitional location of modern industry in rural areas that leads over time to these areas being absorbed as urban centres.

Availability of working facilities at non-agricultural sector was not adequate in the study area. Table 2 represents that a major portion of respondents (42.22 percent of Char, 44.00 percent of rural and 70.00 percent of urban) had high perception about non-availability of working facilities at non-agricultural sector as a cause of Monga. Considering all respondents together, lack of non-agricultural working facilities was perceived as high by 45.56 percent followed by medium (41.11 percent) and low (13.33 percent) perception. Moreover it was comparatively a very important cause in urban area as none of the respondent thought it with low perception.

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