Experts say the allocation is 'directionless'
Farmers have incurred losses this Boro season due to high production cost. But the proposed budget does not reflect that.
Even the subsidy remains almost same.
The agriculture sector has been allocated a lower percentage in the proposed budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year than that of the current fiscal year.
However, the total amount has increased slightly.
Finance Minister Mustafa Kamal proposed Tk14,053 crore for the Ministry of Agriculture, which is 2.68% of the total proposed budget. In the current fiscal year, the sector’s revised budget is Tk12,792 crore; while the proposed budget was Tk13,914 crore. However, the allocation for this sector was at 2.89% of the total budget in the current fiscal year.
In the proposed budget, allocation for subsidies and incentives in the agriculture sector is Tk9,001 crore, which is only Tk1 crore higher than the proposed budget of FY2018-19.
However, in the revised budget for the current fiscal year, it amounted to Tk8,070 crore.
Even though Bangladesh has secured fourth position in rice production, and third in vegetable production, most farmers are still suffering.
This year, the paddy price was around Tk500 per mound. Countrywide, farmers claimed they were selling paddy for less than their production cost, because of high labour costs, and other expenses.
This issue was not reflected in the budget speech. In his budget speech, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said: “The present government has kept the sales price of fertilizers unchanged in the domestic market, to protect farmers' interests, even though the import price of major chemical fertilizers increased at times. This has indirectly assisted in checking consumer price inflation. The sales price for chemical fertilizers will be kept unchanged in the next fiscal year irrespective of their import costs, and incentives for the agriculture sector will continue.
“Mechanization of harvesting and the follow up activities will be encouraged, and subsidies will be provided to farmers to buy machinery for this purpose.”
Dr M Asaduzzaman, research director at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies said: “How much is allocated and how much subsidies are given are important, but what is more important is how to spend this allocated money. This budget has no directives on that.
“How will the subsidies be disbursed? Will a farmer have the ability to buy a power tiller after receiving a small portion of the total price of a power tiller as subsidy? Probably not. So you have to find a way through which the farmers can capitalize on the subsidy."
However, in the proposed budget, the Fisheries and Livestock Ministry is to be allocated more than the current year’s - Tk 2,932 crore. In the current fiscal year, the sector’s revised budget is Tk1,782 crore, while the proposed budget is Tk1,868 crore.