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'Agricultural produce commission' a must to serve farmers' interests

Observes mock parliamentary debate

FE REPORT | February 23, 2021 00:00:00

The winning team receives a crest from economist Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya and Chairman of the Debate for Democracy Hasan Ahmed Chowdhury Kiron at a mock parliamentary debate organised by the Debate for Democracy in the city on Monday.

There is an urgent need for the formation of an 'agricultural produce commission' for the greater interests of the country's agricultural sector.

The proposed commission would bargain with the government policymakers regarding all problems and interests of the farmers.

These observations came at a mock parliamentary debate organised by the Debate for Democracy, held at FDC in the city on Monday, said a press release.

Prominent economist Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya spoke as the chief guest at the event, with Chairman of the Debate for Democracy Hasan Ahmed Chowdhury Kiron in the chair.

Dr Debapriya said direct cash subsidy is more effective for farmers than that of input or loan incentives - this was observed during this pandemic period.

Prof Abu Md Rais also took part in the debate.

Debate for Democracy (DFD), however, placed a ten-point demand for the betterment of the country's farmers and agriculture sector.

The demands include the exemption of interest against loans received by the severely flood-affected farmers and extension of the loan repayment time.

DFD also demanded the formation of the agricultural produce commission which could work to ensure profitable prices for the farm produce.

It also demanded bringing transparency in the distribution of incentives among farmers.

Meanwhile, the government has so far made available various types of support worth Tk 3.72 billion to an estimated 5.7 million farmers, hit hard by coronavirus pandemic and consecutive floods, according to official sources.

The peasantry witnessed severe losses amid a countrywide lockdown at the onset of the pandemic from March to May last year. The loss multiplied due to at least four spells of flood in 37 districts.

The government data showed Aman crop suffered severe damage by the floods, leading to a 10 per cent decline in production.

However, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in the second quarter of this financial year (FY'21) initiated various programmes for the farmers to help them cope with their losses.

Farmers were provided with necessary agricultural inputs including seeds, seedlings, fertilisers and initial assistance.

The agriculture ministry has so far provided assistance worth Tk 1.12 billion to the farmers to help compensate the loss caused by the Covid-19 and floods, said a press release issued by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Incentives of Tk 900 million have been given to increase the production of mash kalai (vigna mungo), mung bean, sunflower, mustard, maize and other crops.

Tk 1.36 billion has been provided for distribution of seeds for free of cost to help increase the production of paddy in Boro season, and Tk 250 million for increasing onion production.

The ministry also allocated Tk 90 million for 'synchronised cultivation' of hybrid rice variety in this Boro season in 61 districts.

A total of 5.7 million farmers have received the incentives for producing crops in nearly 0.315 million hectares (2.364 million bighas) of land.

This incentive was disbursed from the MoA's regular allocation for agricultural rehabilitation assistances.

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