Chittagong Hill Tracts: Indigenous farmers face seed crisis
Farmers in parts of Bangladesh's southeastern Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) face a seed crisis that is undermining the food security of thousands, the World Food Programme (WFP) says. Lack of available seeds and explosive increase in seed prices are contributing to CHT's food insecurity - estimated at more than 30 percent - according to the UN food agency.
"Over the last four years, the frequency of crises in Sajek has been intense" - starting with crop damage by the rodent attack during 2007-2008, restrictions on Jhum cultivation since 2009 and communal conflict in 2010, which continues in 2011, reports a WFP assessment conducted at the end of April. In a further shock to local livelihoods, recent clashes at the end of April over land led to nearly 100 Jumma houses being burned down. "The illegal taking over of indigenous peoples' land by Bengali settlers and the inclusion of their land in forest reserves [has led] to a decrease in the land available for doing shifting cultivation," said Christina Nilsson from the CHT Commission International Secretariat hosted by IWGIA in Copenhagen.