August 8, 2022, 1:29 am


Staff Correspondent

Published:
2022-07-15 10:14:23 BdST

Bangladesh focuses on food security in new action plan


The government has worked out an action plan for FY23 for the agricultural sector to ensure food security as the world faces pressure on food production due to Covid-19 pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war.

The plan has been worked out in line with the National Agriculture Policy 2018, Agricultural Extension Policy 2020 and 8th Five Year Plan, according to an official document.

The main aspects of this action plan are to ensure the country's food security through increased production of all types of crops including paddy and maize; innovate adverse environment-tolerant crop variety and technology and roll it out quickly, and develop and enhance the quality of their seeds using biotechnology, said the official document.

The document highlighted optimum use of surface water and solar-powered irrigation, promotion of the production and application of organic fertilisers to safeguard soil health and issuing smart cards to all farmers in the action plan.

It said that the action plan includes a prediction of weather through climate-smart agriculture and bolster e-agriculture activities.

Besides, in the just started fiscal year, the government will execute actions such as development assistance (subsidies) to keep agricultural input prices with fertiliser and seeds as low as possible at the farmer's level.

It will also make available agricultural machinery to the farmers in order to mechanise agriculture, extend 'Synchronised Cultivation' and collaborate in the production, storage and marketing of a variety of vegetables and fruits, including summer onions and tomatoes.

As per the document, the government is providing high subsidies on agricultural machinery and fertilisers.

It said that Russia and Ukraine together play a dominant role in the global fertiliser supply chain. So, the fertiliser prices increased substantially in the international market because of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Despite the fact that fertiliser import prices have risen.

But the government has not increased prices in the domestic market.

In lieu of price increment, it has prioritised farmer welfare by expanding fertiliser subsidies.

The entire subsidy for fertilisers was estimated at Tk. 92 billion in the budget for FY22.

However, compared to that in May 2021, international prices in May 2022 for TSP, DAP, and MOP fertilisers have gone up by 57 percent, 47 percent and 177 percent respectively.

Under the circumstances, the overall subsidy in FY22 for all types of fertilisers amounts to around Tk 120 billion.

The government will provide Tk. 160 billion as a subsidy in the running FY23.

In addition to providing subsidy to the agriculture sector, the government is offering incentives and rehabilitation aid to enhance the productivity.

Besides, the document said, a 20 per cent cash incentive for exports of agricultural products and a 20 per cent rebate on electricity bills are provided for the electricity use in irrigation pumps.

The government will continue disbursement of special agricultural credit at a concessional interest rate of 4.0 per cent for cultivating 24 crops including pulses, oil, spices, and maize in the running financial year.

For the purpose of investment in the agriculture sector, Bangladesh Bank adopts agriculture and rural credit policies and initiatives each year.

A total of Tk. 260 billion agriculture and rural loan was disbursed to 3.05 million small and marginalised farmers in FY21. In response to the pandemic, the government has lowered the interest rate on agricultural loans from 9.0 per cent to 4.0 per cent and allocated funds amounting to Tk. 195 billion as agricultural loans with a 4.0 per cent concessional interest rate.

In addition to providing subsidy to the agriculture sector, the government is offering incentives and rehabilitation aid to enhance the productivity.

Besides, the document mentioned, a 20 per cent cash incentive for exports of agricultural products and a 20 per cent rebate on electricity bills is provided for the electricity use in irrigation pumps.

The government will continue disbursement of special agricultural credit at a concessional interest rate of 4.0 per cent for cultivating 24 crops including pulses, oil, spices, and maize in the running financial year.

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