NETRAKONA, – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today announced halving the interest rate for fresh agricultural loan for flood affected haor farmers, reports BSS.
Addressing a public meeting here today the Prime Minister reiterated her government’s decision for suspension of the pay-back of the current agri loan until next crop.
“In addition the affected farmers would get fresh agricultural loan at 4.5 percent interest rate to restart farming,” she said adding that the government would also provide support for diversification of their occupation.
Assuring the people of the flood-affected areas of taking all necessary measures for their protection, the Prime Minister said none will face the lack of food and shelter, as VGF activities would continue in the haor areas apart from OMS programme.
“Now we have sufficient stock of food and if necessary we will import more food from abroad,” she said adding that the government has taken arrangement to reach VGF rice to union level at the government cost.
The Prime Minister arrived here this morning by helicopter to see for herself the situation of the flood-affected haor areas of the district.
She distributed relief goods among the flood-stricken farmers and other distressed people before addressing the public meeting at Khaliajuri Degree College ground. She will later visit flash flood-hit haor areas of the upazila.
Flash floods, triggered by torrential rain in the middle of the last month, caused inundating vast swathes of the northeastern region and damaged Boro paddy, putting the livelihoods of thousands of farmers at risk. According to the official estimate a total of 86 unions of 10 upazilas were affected and crops of 28,425 hectors of land were fully damaged, affecting more than 1.65 lakh farmers in Netrakona district.
Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud, Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, Food Minister Quamrul Islam and local parliament member Rebeka Momin addressed the meeting among others while Awami League Joint Secretary Mahbub-ul Alam Hanif and Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports Arif Khan Joy were present.
The Prime Minister said the government has taken instant measures after the flash flood in the north-eastern districts. Accordingly all ministries have responded quickly.
“Flash flood is a usual phenomenon in haor areas. But we have to be careful to lessen the loss of the farmers,” she said adding that “as a person from ‘baor’ area I know better what is your sufferings.”
Sheikh Hasina said the government has already taken decision for complete waiving of the interest of agricultural loan of the haor people, and as much as support would be given to them to lessen their loss.
The Prime Minister suggested the farmers not to be dependent only on rice production, instead diversification of their occupation and go for pisci-culture, horticulture, dairy and poultry farming.
She put emphasis on increasing production of fishes and livestock in haor areas alongside Boro paddy and advised the haor people not to be dependent on single crop (Boro paddy), rather producing pulses, mustard and vegetables.
The Prime Minister said all necessary embankments would be constructed to protect people of Netrakona from flood. And, all rivers would be excavated to improve their navigability.
The Prime Minister said the Relief Ministry is supplying food to extreme poor through VGD and VGF cards. Ministry of Food is selling rice at Taka 10 per kg for 50 lakh low income people.
Pointing out the potentials of the haor areas, the prime minister said the government has undertaken plans to improve the living condition of the haor people.
The Prime Minister asked the district administration to make a list of land less people of Netrakona district saying the government would rehabilitate each and every homeless people.
She said flood-affected school children would be provided with necessary help and residential schools would be constructed for them.
Pointing out the steps taken by her government for farmers the Prime
Minister said her government in 1996 first introduced the collateral free loan for share croppers to protect them from profit mongers.
Agricultural Ministry is giving soft loan to farmers who are also getting agricultural components at fair price through ‘agricultural card’, she said.
Around 97.31 lakh farmers opened bank accounts at Taka 10 and the government is sending the amount of subsidy to their accounts directly through banking system, she added.
The Prime Minister said the government has issued ‘agricultural component card’ to about 2.08 crore farmers to receive financial assistance.