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Government should increase agriculture subsidies

  • Published at 09:41 pm May 22nd, 2018
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Speakers at a national seminar titled 'Sustainable Agriculture and Right to Food,' organized at CIRDAP auditorium in Dhaka on Tuesday; May 22, 2018 Dhaka Tribune

'We have to put greater focus on agricultural and rural economies, as farmers are often marginalized by bank owners, industrialists, or politicians'

Despite the decreasing contribution of agriculture in this country, it still retains significant importance and should be subsidized more by the government as banks often disagree to reduce loan rates.

Such were the views expressed by Dr Abdur Razzak MP, chair for the Standing Committee of the Finance Ministry, who was the chief guest at a national seminar titled "Sustainable Agriculture and Right to Food," organized at CIRDAP auditorium in Dhaka on Tuesday.

"It is impossible to prevent industry setups on farm land," said Abdur at the seminar. "But if we put more emphasis on increasing agricultural productivity, perhaps we can cope with the situation."

He also put emphasis on an initiative to integrate industry approaches towards commerce and agriculture to meet the upcoming threat on right to food.

Economist Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, chairman of Right to Food Bangladesh and Palli Karma Shayak Foundation (PKSF), said in his speech: "We have to put greater focus on agricultural and rural economies, as farmers are often marginalized by bank owners, industrialists, or politicians." 

"Because of them, farmers' demands never reach higher-ups in government," he said.

He added: "Right now, we are under the sphere of influence of neo-liberalism. But if there was a proper distribution of wealth, everyone would get equal access to food."

Mohsin Ali, general secretary of Right to Food Bangladesh and executive director of Wave Foundation, presented key notes throughout the seminar, which focused on the successes and limitations of the agriculture sector, as well as the current subsidies scenario and the usage of agricultural lands. 

He put up four recommendations about sustainable agriculture and the right to food, including setting up a “price commission” to assure the proper price of agricultural products produced by farmers to establish sustainable agriculture, enhancing the budget by prioritizing the agriculture sector, increasing subsidies for the agriculture sector in terms of use of modern technologies and a good harvesting system, and the immediate implementation of proper measures and laws to meet the right to food and nutrition of 4 million extremely poor.

Other speakers included Ataur Rahman Miton, country director for Hunger Free World, and Dr Faruk-ul-Islam, head of Business Development and Quality Assurance at Practical Action Bangladesh. 

Dr Mahbubar Rahman, former vice-chancellor for Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Agriculture University, Agriculturalist Md Hamidur Rahman, former director general of the Department of Agricultural Extension, Zayed Iqbal Khan, general secretary for Bangladesh Farmers Federation and member of the National Committee for Right to Food, and others, were present at the seminar.