Page last updated at 11:54 GMT, Friday, 6 February 2009

Bangladesh rat killer tops 39,000

Dhaka shopkeeper displaying rats which he claimed to have killed
The rat population has reached plague-like levels in Bangladesh

A farmer from north Bangladesh has been named the country's top rat killer after disposing of 39,650 rodents over the course of a year.

Binoy Kumar Karmakar, 40, won a 14in (36cm) colour TV in the government-backed competition to find the most prolific rat killer.

He used traps, poison and flooding to kill his quarry. He collected their tails as proof of his prowess.

His kill-rate was equivalent to one every 13 minutes, officials say.

The competition was part of a nationwide drive to stop food supplies from being eaten up by rats.


"During the year, our farmers killed around 25 million rats," agriculture department spokesman Abdul Halim told Agence France-Presse news agency.

"Binoy Kumar Karmakar has been declared the champion for killing 39,650."

Officials estimate that up to 10% of Bangladesh's crops - including rice, wheat and potato - is devoured by rats every year.

Last year a plague of rats destroyed the crops of tens of thousands of people living in the remote south-eastern Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Aid workers warned that the destruction left people in a "near-famine situation".

The UN's World Food Programme distributed food aid to 120,000 people for four months after last year's infestation.

The rat population soared because the rodents were feeding off the region's bamboo forests, which were blossoming for the first time in decades.

Neighbouring states in India suffered from the same problem.

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