Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today laid importance on constant and intense research on agriculture to meet the food demand of growing population and achieve the cherished goal of making the country hunger and poverty free.
“Without new innovation in the agriculture sector to produce more food and its diversification, it’s not possible to maintain the present pace of food production,” she said.
Due to pragmatic steps of her government for agricultural research, she said Bangladesh could overcome the situation of food crisis and soaring food price across the world over the last few years.
“We have to maintain the growth in the agriculture sector to protect our agri-based economy, ensure food security of the people, improve their living standards and rural employment,” she said while distributing Bangabandhu Jatiya Krishi Puraskar-1418 at a function at Osmani Memorial Hall here.
The Prime Minister said, “It’s the responsibility of the government to make the agricultural components available for farmers. “Why they have to go for agitation or lay down their lives for those items,” she asked.
As an agro-based country, we have to give more attention to agricultural production to strengthen our economy to live as a dignified nation amongst the world community, she said seeking
support of the agricultural scientists in this regard.
The Prime Minister announced that the government would further consider increasing the retirement age of the agricultural scientists so that they can contribute more in this sector.
This year a total of 28 persons and organizations were given the award including four gold, seven silver and 17 bronze medals for their outstanding contribution to the field of agriculture.
Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhdury presided over the function while Minister for Fisheries and Animal Resources Abdul Latif Biswas and Minister for Environment and Forests Dr Hasan Mahmud, spoke, among others. Agriculture secretary Dr SM Nazmul Islam gave the welcome address.
The Prime Minister said her government had assumed office in 1996 with 40 lakh metric tons of food deficit. In that tenure, she said the Awami League government made Bangladesh as food surplus country by producing 26 lakh MT additional food.
But, after coming to power in 2001, the BNP-Jamaat Alliance government again turned Bangladesh into a food-deficit country.
Now Bangladesh produces 30 lakh metric ton surplus food than its
annual requirement, she said.
This year’s gold medal recipients are: East Beercote IPM women club of Senbag, Noakhali, Gadkhali Nurturer and Flower Traders Welfare Association of Jhikargachha, Jessore, M Lutfor Rahman of Sadullahpur of Gaibandha, Mamun ur Rashid, deputy director of Agriculture Extension Department (AED).
The silver medal receivers are- Biotechnology Division of Bangladesh Atomic Agri Research Institute, Mymensingh, Asaduzzaman Chowdhury of South Bishnupur of Badarganj upazila, Rangpur, Soil Resources Development Institute, Kumardugi Vegetable CIG Cooperatives Ltd of Krishnapur of Chandpur district, Mritunjoy Roy, AED, Bagerhat, Amzad Khan of Madabpur of Habiganj and Sanjib Sutradhar, upazila animal resources officer of Brahamanbaria.
Seventeen persons who received the bronze medals are- Parimal Sarkar, sub-assistant agriculture officer of Mithapukur, Rangpur,
Moksudur Rahman Lebu of Nalitabari of Sherpur, Syed Nurul Awal Taramia, store keeper of AED, Khamarbari, Kishoreganj, Salma Akhter, sub-assistant agriculture officer of Brahmanbari Sadar, Selim Reza, sub- assistant agriculture officer of Muktagachha, Mymensingh, Logy Begum of Rajbari Sadar of Rajbari, M/S Fatema Enterprise of Syedpur of Nilphamari, M Ansar Ali of Shibganj of Bogra, Selina Zaman of Shibpur of Narsindi, Adarsha Krishi Khamar of Ishwardi, Pabna, Mati Ma Monindra-Sabitree Afforestration Project of Dumuria of Khulna, Syed Abdul Matin of D J Agro Ltd. of Rampal, Bagerhat, Masum Sikder of Kalagacha of Patuakhali, Altab Ali of Biswanath of Sylhet, M Jaherul Islam of Ranishangkoil of Thakurgaon, Amirul Islam of Lakshmikunda of Ishwardi, Pabna and Mayeen Uddin of Omarpur of Daganbhuiyan of Feni.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the production of food grains has been raised to about 373 lakh MT in 2012-13 fiscal year from 333 lakh MT in 2008-09 fiscal.
She said the living standards of the people of the country have been increased over the last few years. Side by side, the level of their intake of protein has also been increased.
“We have to take proper steps for fulfilling the protein demand of the people,” she said.
Saying that the government has finalized the National Agriculture Policy, the Prime Minister said her government would continue giving all support to the farmers including agriculture loan, fertilizer at fair price and subsidy on irrigation as well as making the agricultural component available.
Sheikh Hasina hoped that the Bangabandhu Jatiya Krishi Purashkar will inspire the people working in the agricultural field to work with more devotion and sincerity.
She said immediately after independence Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called for a “Green Revolution”
in the country to build Sonar Bangla. In 1973, he also established the Bangabandhu Krishi Award Fund.
But after his assassination in 1975, military ruler Ziaur Rahman deleted Bangabandhu’s name from the fund, and the activities of giving Krishi awards had also become irregular, she said.
In 1996, the Awami League government reorganized the Bangabandhu Krishi Award Fund and resumed its activities for giving awards to individuals and organizations in recognition to the special contribution to agriculture.
The Prime Minister said, after coming to power in 2001, the BNP-Jamaat alliance government again excluded the name of Bangabandhu from the award. But, the present government after taking office in 2009, introduced the “Bangabandhu Jatiya Krishi Purashkar, she added.
Sheikh Hasina said this award is given for encouraging in development of agriculture. “We hope that more people would come forward following the examples of the award-recipients,” she said.
The Prime Minister said after taking office this time, the present government took massive programmes for the development of griculture. At the very first meeting of the present government, it has taken decision to bring the prices of non-urea fertilizers within the purchasing capacity of the farmers by cutting their prices drastically. Later, the prices of agri inputs were reduced twice, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government has been providing a huge amount of subsidy to farmers. Around Taka 24,000 crore was given as agricultural subsidy in the last four and a half years, she said.
The Prime Minister said agriculture loan of about Taka 46,000 crore has been disbursed and agri credit is being distributed among the sharecroppers at a very nominal interest. Farmers are enjoying the facilities by opening bank account at only Taka 10.
She said 15 wholesale markets and 60 growers’ markets were set up in 16 northern districts, while a central market has been established at Gabtoli. The government is working with a goal to reestablish the glory of the country’s southern region as “food store”.