Be more active to execute development projects: PM



TBT Live Update: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today directed all concerned of the Agriculture Ministry to be more active to implement every development project on time by maintaining the quality.

She said that the budget of Agriculture Ministry in the Annual Development Programme (ADP) is being enhanced in every fiscal year and Taka 12,288 crore were allocated in the agriculture sector in the current budget.

“So I am giving directives to all to be more active to implement every development project on time by maintaining the quality,” she said.

The Prime Minister said this while addressing senior officials of the Agriculture Ministry during her visit to the ministry here this morning.

Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury also spoke on the occasion.

PM’s Principal Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikdar, PMO Secretary Md Abul Kalam Azad, Agriculture Secretary Nazmul Islam and Press Secretary AKM Shameem Chowdhury were present on the occasion.

Sheikh Hasina called upon all concerned to play more effective role in the development of marketing of agri produces and ensuring their fair prices.

“The Agriculture Ministry has been working for development of marketing of agri produces and ensuring their fair prices. So I urge all concerned to play more effective role in this connection,” she said.

Underscoring the need for more mechanization of the agriculture sector, the Prime Minister said the government has taken steps so that every farmer family could hold at least one agri machine.

“The area and amount of subsidy on agri machineries would be increased further gradually,” she said.

In this connection, Sheikh Hasina directed the officials concerned to take initiatives to encourage the children of the farmers in engaging agri cultural work.

After completing study, she said, the children of the farmers don’t want to engage in agricultural work. “So you will have to take initiative to remove this reluctance and convince them it (agri work) is a better task,” she said.

The Prime Minister said the students will have to be spurred in agricultural work side by side with study. “They will have to be persuaded that it is an important and holy task,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina hoped that the scientists and researchers would come forward further to research and development activities for boosting agri production.

She said her government has made arrangement of incentives to encourage the agri scientists. “We have taken a decision to raise the retirement age of the agri scientists to 67,” she added.

In the last fiscal year, she said, the money equivalent to the one month basic salary was given to 1,222 agri scientists as incentives.

The Prime Minister thanked the Agriculture Ministry for undertaking a master plan for overall agriculture development of the coastal area meaning 14 southern districts.

She, however, underscored the need for taking necessary initiatives for executing this plan on time to face the overall agriculture challenges of the southern region and integrated development of the water management including the crop, fishery and livestock sectors.

The Prime Minister said Bangladesh has become self-reliant in food thanks to hard and relentless labour of the farmers as well as devotion to work by all officials and employees of the Agriculture Ministry and its every organization.

“I hope that you would be able to build a sustainable and
environment-friendly commercial agriculture system by optimum
application of your knowledge and experience and the government
always remains beside you,” she said.

Taking a swipe at a section of people who always remain busy
with criticism of others, Sheikh Hasina said they write and talk
and take part in TV talk shows. “But they don’t see the success
of our scientists and researchers,” she said.

“I cannot say whether they could realize the success and we
don’t see or hear whether they encourage the scientists by
talking about this,” she said.

The Prime Minister said Bangladesh is advancing—these
people would give attention to this.

Terming agriculture as the lifeline of Bangladesh’s economy,
the Prime Minister said the role of agriculture in boosting
productivity and income as well as achieving prosperity of the
country’s huge population through generating employment in rural
area is endless.

“The contribution of the agriculture to the GDP including
crops, fisheries, animal and forest resources is 21 percent and
the half of the country’s labour force is engaged in this
sector,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the present government has been recognized
as an agriculture and farmer-friendly government.

“Today’s visit and view-exchange would make more prosperous
to us in accelerating the trend of development in the agriculture
sector,” she hoped.

Sheikh Hasina said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh
Mujibur Rahman had given the topmost priority to the development
of the agriculture sector.

“Bangabandhu made a call for Sabuj Biplab (green revolution)
by urging a hunger and poverty-free Bangladesh and framed a plan
to bring every inch of land under the cultivation,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the agriculture sector suffered a huge
setback due to unbridled corruption of the BNP government during
its rule from 1991-1996.

“As many as 18 farmers were gunned down while protesting the
mismanagement in distribution of agri inputs including
fertilizers and graft of the BNP government,” she said, adding
the farmers of the whole country became a victim of deprivation.

She said the people had elected Awami League in 1996 to
overcome that stalemate. “We formed the government and given
priority to the development of agriculture sector,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the Awami League government had turned
Bangladesh into a food-surplus country from the food-deficit one.
“We had upheld the development of farmers and the agri sector by
facing the deluge of 1998,” she said.

The Prime Minister said it is a matter of regret that the
BNP-Jamaat alliance government turned Bangladesh into a food-
deficit country from the food-surplus one.

She said the unbridled corruption gripped the every sector of
agriculture and they took the sector, the one of the driving
forces of the country’s economy, towards the edge of ruination.

In this connection, Sheikh Hasina mentioned that former
finance minister of BNP has said in parliament that the country
won’t get aid if it becomes self-reliant in food.

“We had protested his remark, saying that they want that
Bangladesh would always remain as a nation of beggars and they
want to keep Bangladesh as a crippled,” she said

Listing various steps for the development of agri sector as
well as for welfare of the farmers, the Prime Minister said her
previous government after assuming office, halved the price of
non-urea fertilizers.

“Later we reduced the price of the fertilizers for four time
by increasing subsidy which was an epoch-making decision,” she

Side by side with raising subsidy on fertilizers, she said,
the government gave subsidy to diesel and electricity.

The Prime Minister said the government has framed the
National Agriculture Policy, 2013 to face various challenges of
the sector including climate change, boosting productivity,
turning into commercial agriculture by making agriculture
sustainable and ensuring food and nutrition.

In the light of the National Agriculture Policy, she said,
the work on crafting the Agriculture Extension Policy 2014 and
the National Small Irrigation Policy is underway.

Sheikh Hasina said a seed multiplication farm has been
established by the BADC on about 1,045 acres of land in the char
areas of Dashmina Upazila in Patuakhali district to cultivate
adversity- tolerance species.

The Prime Minister said: “We will have to come forward
further to develop technologies to bring the coastal char areas
under the cultivation and encourage the farmers of these areas.”

She said her government stands beside the farmers in any
problem. “We have given incentives to the small and marginal
farmers affected in flood, Aila, Sidr, Mohasen, cyclones and
other natural disasters and made arrangements for their
rehabilitation,” she said.