Sunday, 29 November 2009

[creative-radio] Indigenous practice fights food crisis in Chittagong Hill Tracts region.

 

http://bdnews24.com/details.php?id=147922&cid=2

Sun, Nov 29th, 2009 3:31 pm BdST

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
bdnews24.com senior correspondent

Dhaka, Nov 27 (bdnews24.com)�A traditional indigenous practice is
being taken up by different communities to fight a food crisis in the
Chittagong Hill Tracts region. Bengalis and other ethnic groups have
adopted the practice of the Mro tribe, of creating a Rice Bank, in their
own communities.

They say the Rice Bank can give them the chance to prepare as rodents
threaten another spell of destruction of crops including paddy in the
coming season.

The vast bamboo growing areas�spreading over parts of India,
Bangladesh (taking in the hill tracts) and Myanmar�have been facing
acute food shortages since 2007 due to a rat plague, which occurs on
regular basis every 47 to 50 years.

According to government, around 1.1 million people live in the hill
districts of Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban, with an area of over
13,000 square kilometres. Half belong to different indigenous groups and
half are Bengalis who settled in the 1970s and 80s.

Chakma, Bengali, Marma, Mro, Tenchunga, Pankho are the major communities.

Mro farmers have traditionally deposited rice in a 'bank' during the
harvest period. Community members can take grain from it when necessary.
Non-farmers can also take food from the bank so the whole community
overcomes hunger together.

UNDP, with financial grants from the European Commission, has been
promoting the Rice Bank model among different communities to face poverty
in clusters of villages dotted in the hill tracts.

"We have already started our own Rice Bank," Chandra Bahu Chakma, a leader
of the Sagupara village in Rangamati Sadar, told a visiting European
Commission delegation on Nov 26.

A total of 24 families live in the island village on Kaptai lake in
Rangamati district.

Marma leader Aung Sang Jai Karbari, of Karbaripara in Jibtoli union, told
bdnews24.com: "It is a very effective way of facing food shortages in our
communities."

Mohammad Shah Alam of Killamura-Bangalipara village in Balu Khali said his
village was also creating a Rice Bank village from next year.

He clarified that all villagers, irrespective of their livelihoods, would
get rice from the buffer stock during crisis periods.

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