Dhaka, 8 September, Abnews: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today asked agriculturists to give special attentions so Bangladesh does not need to beg to others for food in future as the country became self-reliant in food.
“We want Bangladesh’s march forward to continue and we don’t want to move with begging hand,” she said while opening the 6th National Convention of the Krishibid Institution Bangladesh KIB in its auditorium at Farmgate here.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh by now achieved self-reliance in food but “our government and the Awami League’s policy is that we will become self-reliant in all sectors”.
“We will not beg to anybody (in line with our policy) . . . So I would like to request the agriculturists to give special focus so that Bangladesh no more needs to beg to others for food,” she said.
The premier said the past BNP regime, on the other hand, pursued a policy to remain dependent on others and that was why they always wanted to bring food aid from abroad.
Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury was present as the special guest the function chaired by KIB President AMM Saleh while International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) President and CEO Scot J Angel and KIB Secretary General Md Khairul Alam Prince also spoke on the occasion.
Agriculturists Dr Mirza Abdul Jalil, Dr Abdur Razzak, Abdul Mannan and AFM Bahauddin Nasim were present on the dais.
Nasim was conferred with KIB’s “life time achievement award” for his outstanding contributions to the development of agriculture as well as other fields.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina handed over this award to Nasim.
The prime minister said the next election is nearing and the Awami League remained in power for two consecutive terms.
“If the people give mandate to us we’ll come to power again … if they don’t give vote to us in the third term we’ll not come to power. But we don’t want the advancement that we initiated remains halted,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina also urged the agriculturists to work with utmost sincerity to materialise Bangabandhu’s dream of establishing a hunger and poverty-free Sonar Bangla.
The premier advised the agriculturists to work for producing more food grains from limited land and focus more attention on food processing.
She said the agriculture sector is one of the main driving forces of Bangladesh’s economic development. “The amount of farmland in the country is decreasing day by day due to booming population, urbanisation and setting up mills and factories,” she said.
“On the other hand, the demand for agri products is going up, and to face the twin challenges, we’ve to produce more food grains,” she added.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is now fourth in the world in rice production, third in vegetables production, third in fish production, eighth in potato production and seventh in mango production.
“We’re going to become self-reliant in meat and egg production and this development has been possible due to coordinated efforts of agri research, inputs supply and expansion and service sector,” she said.
Laying importance on value addition to these products and increasing processing of foods, the premier said market is expanding due to socioeconomic development of the people. “If value addition is made to these foods, we can export the products at larger volume after meeting our domestic demands,” she said.
The prime minister said special focus will have to be given for processing agri products to further strengthen the country’s economy. “We’re encouraging all concerned in this regard so that more investment comes in this sector,” she also said.
“We’ll produce more food grains and will process the foods which have huge demands at home and abroad.”We want to earn more foreign currencies by exporting foods and thus strengthen our economy … we’re working with this goal,” she said.
The prime minister underscored the need for emergency food stock keeping in mind the natural disasters like flood, drought, cyclone and tidal surge.
“Producing food is not adequate, we will also have to focus on emergency food stock as the natural disasters like flood, drought, cyclone and tidal surge are common phenomena in the country,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government has started construction of modern silos and food godowns to keep stock of food of 20/22 lakh metric tons or for 2/3 years so that the country doesn’t need to beg to others for food.
The premier said the government is also working to popularise solar power for agri production. “We’ll have to go for renewable energy,” she said.
In this connection, she urged the agriculture minister to take initiatives for setting up solar panel on cooperative basis as it is very costly.
“All will be benefitted if it is done on this way. On behalf of the power ministry, we will extend all kinds of cooperation to this end,” she assured.
Highlighting her government’s strides for development of the agriculture sector, the premier said the government in its first cabinet meeting brought the price of non-urea fertilizers within the reach of the farmers.
“Later we cut the fertilizer price twice and a result the TSP is being sold at Taka 22, MOP at Taka 15 and DAP at Taka 27,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government has given a huge amount of subsidy to make available the chemical fertilizers, irrigation, fuel oil and agriculture machinery.
She said collateral-free agri loan is being disbursed among the sharecroppers at a nominal interest and agriculture assistance cards were distributed among the farmers side by side with allowing them to open bank accounts at only Taka 10.
The prime minister said as a result, Bangladesh now achieved an unprecedented success in producing agri products. “The total food grain (rice, wheat and maize) production has increased to 4.15 crore MT in 2017-2018 from 3.28 crore MT in 2008-2009,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said her government also given importance to agriculture education and research to boost food production in the country.
“We’ve set up two new agriculture universities alongside 12 science and technology universities … agriculture subject was opened in Hazi Danesh Science and Technology University in Dinajpur and Patuakhali Science and Technology University,” she said.
Referring to Bangabandhu’s contributions to the development of agriculture, the premier said he fixed ceiling of land ownership up to 100 bighas and waived tax of land up to 25 bighas.
“It was the Father of the Nation who gave class one status to the job of the agriculturists to attract students to agri education and introduced ‘Bangabandhu Krishi Puroshkar Tahabil’ for the contributions to the agriculture sector,” she added. – BSS