Up to Tk30cr will be allocated initially, agriculture secretary says
In line with the government's directive of making the best use of every inch of land to tackle the possible food crisis due to Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Agriculture has planned to cultivate vegetables at the courtyards of 650,000 houses across the country.
"As per the directive of the prime minister, vegetables will be cultivated at the courtyards and rooftops of every house under Family Agriculture Scheme. At the moment, the target is to bring the courtyards of 650,000 houses under vegetable farming," Agriculture Secretary Md Nasiruzzaman said.
Initially, Nasiruzzaman said, Tk20-30 crore will be allocated for the project.
"The amount will be increased, if necessary. As little as 1% land of each house will be required for vegetable garden.
"At present, there are 65,000 villages in the country and 1% space at the courtyard of each house in those villages is required for 'Vegetable Nutrition Garden.' If the land is less than that, then fruits will be produced," he added.
Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque said Kalikapur model of homegrown vegetable farming will be adopted to achieve the target.
"A project has been taken to cultivate vegetables at the courtyards of houses similar to Kalikapur model which has already been implemented for easy cultivation of 14 types of vegetables at courtyards," he said.
He further said the ministry will assist those who are interested in growing vegetables at courtyards and on the rooftops of houses by providing seeds, fertilizers, and necessary technology.
"Tube-wells will be provided, if necessary. Not even an inch of land will remain vacant, as instructed by the prime minister, to give a boost to the agricultural production," the minister said.
The minister mentioned that Sajina vegetable will be planted alongside roads as per the directive of the prime minister to ensure the best use of land.
Abdur Razzaque said the government has set a target to produce 3,444,800 tons of Aush paddy this season and already distributed seeds and fertilizers among 383,434 farmers.
"We are working to ensure production, preservation and supply of standard seeds to farmers so that agricultural production is not hampered due to the pandemic. Already, seeds of Aush, vegetables, and jute collected from BADC [Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation] and different private companies, have been supplied to the farmers to start cultivation," he added.
Stimulus package for agriculture
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on April 12 announced a new stimulus package of Tk5,000 crore to provide financial assistance to small and medium farmers in rural areas for boosting agricultural production facing the Covid-19 fallout.
"Bangladesh Bank will formulate a new refinancing scheme of Tk5,000 crore to pump running capital into the agricultural sector. Money will be disbursed from this fund to farmers at only 4% interest rate," said the agriculture minister.
Mentioning that the government has already allocated Tk100 crore for the Ministry of Agriculture for the mechanization of crop harvesting process, he said the government will also allocate another amount of Tk100 crore in this regard.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina put emphasis on producing and preserving food to face the possible food crisis in the post-coronavirus regime.
She said the land in Bangladesh is fertile and people are laborious while Bangladesh currently is a food-sufficient country.
"Let there not be an inch of land left without farming. We have to keep our eyes on that and that is what I want," she said while holding a videoconference with the public representatives and officials of eight districts of Dhaka and Mymensingh divisions on the present coronavirus situation on April 20.
Agriculture in next budget
The government is likely to go for a strategic "recovery plan" in the next budget (2020-21) with a greater focus on agriculture and health sectors to revive the national economy hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreak.
"Consultations are going on over a recovery plan in the next budget to put the economy back on track from this stagnation caused by Covid-19 pandemic," Planning Minister MA Mannan said adding that health, agriculture and mega projects will get priority in this recovery plan to make the economy stronger so that any such future disaster could be tacked effectively.