Farmer Mohammed Golam Quddus sold several cows to meet his family's extra expenses. Fisherman Mantu Mandol sent his four-year-old daughter to live with her grandmother when he could not afford to feed her. And widow Zamdashi Shardar's children sometimes go to bed hungry.
DHAKA -- High food prices are forcing some of the poorest Bangladeshis to literally pull in their belts, eating fewer, less nutritious meals. Here are three stories from the southern Satkhira district, considered one of the country's poorest regions:
Mohammed Golam Quddus, 49, farmer -- Dairy farmer Mohammed Quddus no longer stops to drink tea and chat with friends when he delivers milk in the southern Bangladeshi village of Batkekheli. "Socializing has become much too expensive these days and I can't afford that anymore," he said of the small price he paid for the tea. "I deliver and return back home." Quddus' earnings have actually gone up this year, with the milk he sells fetching a higher price. But so have production costs and the food he buys -- making it even harder to feed his family of five. "I find it very difficult to ensure their nutrition," he says. "I have dropped certain vegetables from my daily grocery list as I can no longer afford them."
Mantu Mandol, 24, fisherman -- Mandol's family has shrunk to three after higher food prices forced him to send his daughter to live with her grandmother. At best, he earns less than a dollar a day catching fish and collecting wood from the vast Sundarban mangrove forest in southern Bangladesh. "In the last few months, prices for rice and vegetables have doubled, so we are eating less now," Mandol says of the couple and their two-year-old son. A recent lunch consisted of rice and cabbage. The family saved the leftovers -- barely enough for one person, let alone three -- for dinner. Mandol's wife Ekadoshi now desperately searches for domestic work to add to their meager earnings. But soaring prices for staples have forced even well-off families to cut back on help.
Zamdashi Shardar, 45, widow -- After Shardar's husband died in a tiger attack in 2009, she stopped sending her children to school. Now, the family of eight, living in the southern Bangladeshi village of Jelepara, is reeling from another blow -- soaring food prices that now force them to skip meals. "We spend all that we earn on food," Shardar says. "The price of rice, vegetables and other essentials are double what they used to be." Shardar's two sons, aged 22 and eight, now work as day labourers or sell the fish they catch. Shardar and her 13-year-old daughter work in a local market. The family income amounts to about $2 a day. "On some nights, the kids have to go to bed on an empty stomach," she says.