Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday asked agriculturists to give special attentions so Bangladesh did not need to begto 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 at its auditorium at Farmgate in Dhaka.
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 liketo request the agriculturists to give special focus so that Bangladesh nomore 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 specialguest the function chaired by KIB president AMM Saleh while International Fertiliser Development Centre president and CEO Scot J Angel and KIB secretary general Md Khairul Alam prince also spoke on the occasion.
Agriculturists Mirza Abdul Jalil, AbdurRazzak, 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 was 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 theydon’t give vote to us in the third term we’ll not come to power. But we don’t want that the advancement that we initiated will remain 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 foodgrains from limited land and pay more attention to 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 upmills and factories,’ she said.
‘On the other hand, the demand for agri products is going up, and to facethe twin challenges, we’ve to produce more food grains,’ she added.
Sheikh Hasina said, ‘Bangladesh is now fourth in the world in riceproduction, 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 researchers, inputs supply and expansion and service sector.’
Laying importance on value addition to these products and increasingprocessing of foods, the premier said market is expanding due tosocioeconomic 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 would have to be given for processing agri products to further strengthen the country’s economy. ‘We’re encouraging gall 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 hugedemands at home and abroad. We want to earn more foreign currencies byexporting foods and thus strengthen our economy … we’re working with thisgoal,’ she said.
The prime minister underscored the need for emergency food stock keepingin 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 tidalsurge are common phenomena in the country,’ she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government had started construction of modern silosand food godowns to keep stock of food of 20/22 lakh metric tons or for 2/3years so that the country doesn’t need to beg to others for food.
The premier said the government was 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 initiativesfor 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 powerministry, we will extend all kinds of cooperation to this end,’ she assured.
Highlighting her government’s strides for development of the agriculturesector, the premier said the government in its first cabinet meeting brought the price of non-urea fertilisers within the reach of the farmers.
‘Later we cut the fertiliser price twice and a result the TSP is being sold at Tk 22, MOP at Tk 15 and DAP at Tk 27,’ she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government had given a huge amount of subsidy tomake available the chemical fertilisers, irrigation, fuel oil and agriculture machinery.
She said collateral-free agri loan is being disbursed among the share croppers at a nominal interest and agriculture assistance cards weredistributed among the farmers side by side with allowing them to open bank accounts at only Tk 10.
The prime minister said as a result, Bangladesh had achieved an unprecedented success in producing agri products. ‘The total food grain 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 had 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 100bighas 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.
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