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Make sure that Bangladesh doesn’t need to beg for food: PM

Published on: 10:20 pm - Saturday | September 8, 2018

currentnews.com.bd

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)
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