Civil society demand 6% allocation for agriculture ministry in the budget
Dhaka: Civil society representatives have demanded that the Ministry of Agriculture be allocate 6 per cent of the total budget for the fiscal year 2020-21 to address the post-corona economic slowness, food security, employment and for alleviating poverty.
In addition, the ensuing budget will have to consider agriculture as a priority sector, increase the government's food stock capacity, provide food aid to the poorest for the next 6 months, reduce fertilizer subsidy in the budget, provide cash subsidy to the farmers, set up commodity price commissions, agricultural markets during disaster and price management demands have been made to form a all ministry-based coordination committee.
The speakers made the demands at a virtual seminar on "Agriculture and Food Security in corona: context National Budget 2020-21" organized by the Food Security Network (Khani) and the Democratic Budget Movement on Friday (May 22).
Secretary of the Ministry of Food Dr. Mosammat Nazmunara Khanum said in her speech as the chief guest, agriculture was the only satisfactory place in this difficult time of corona disaster. The Prime Minister has also given the most importance on this sector. I also think farmers are always being deprived. I agree with everyone that if you want to stand by the side of the farmer at the moment, you have to give cash assistance to the farmer. There is a lot of talk about getting a fair price for the farmer. This is also very true; especially vegetable growers are being deprived of fair prices. However, with regard to the transportation of agricultural goods, BRTC and Postal Department vehicles have already been proposed for use. We will try to make a list immediately after planting paddy for the purpose of buying paddy directly from the farmer in future. Because at the time of procuring paddy, we do not getting the list of farmers at the right time.
Safety Food Network President. Mohammad Zainul Abedin said, the corona situation has brought a great opportunity to protect our market system, the rights of farmers and consumers. We can learn a lot from this. But for the farmers, if we can somehow form an agricultural monitoring committee and work on the number of crops that can be worked on in the beginning, then something good can happen.
Economist Professor MM Akash highlighted the contribution of the agricultural sector to the country's GDP and the deprivation of the farmers accordingly and asked them to give cash to the farmers to address the crisis.
In his words, farmers need to be given cash support. Otherwise, the farmer will not be able to buy seeds, fertilizers and other things in time. Market management needs to be fixed. A direct connection between the consumer and the producer needs to be created. Through it both will be able to get the right price. However, we do not have any infrastructure in this regard.
Former Agriculture Secretary Anwar Farooq said, the innovations that have come in the marketing of agricultural products during the corona period need to be expanded. At the same time, the government has to expand the online agricultural market with incentives. The government needs to pay more attention to agricultural marketing.
Besides, the discussants also said that in the future, in post corona period there need to increase allocations for food aid to the poor, coordinate between the Ministry of Agriculture and Food for the purchase of paddy and rice, provide direct cash incentives to farmers to revive the rural economy, formulate policies to provide credit facilities to sharecroppers and produce agricultural machinery. They demanded allocation to provide incentives to the innovative youth and allocation of budget for the expansion of family farming.