Today at the National Press Club in Dhaka 10 farmers’ and right based organizations led by EquityBD said in a press conference that the allocation for agriculture in the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year 2014-15 is inadequate and suicidal for future self-sufficiency in food. They also urge to establish a National Price Commission to ensure the fair price for the agricultural products to save the local farmers. They said that through the enormous negligence to the agriculture, the government has failed to fulfill their promise of achieving self-sufficiency in food by 2012 mentioned in their election manifesto. If the situation goes like this the country will not be able to face the food crisis for the increased population by 2021 and the poverty will increase.
It is also said in the press conference that the allocation for the agriculture is only 4.95% of total budget i.e. 2,505.06 billion Taka and it is less than that of last year. Agricultural subsidy of 90 billion Taka remains unchanged from last year but its affect will be decreased for the 7% of inflation. Increased price of fuel and water will affect it as well. It will cause more food import in the coming years, they added.
Syed Aminul Haque of EquityBD moderates the Press Conference titled “National Budget 2014-15: Farmers’ expectations and reality. Inadequate budget for agriculture is suicidal for future self-sufficiency in food” while Barkat Ullah Maruf of the same organization presents the keynote paper. Other speakers were Subol Sarkar of Bangladesh Bhumihin Samity, Aminur Rasul Babul of Unnayan Dhara Trust, Jayed Iqbal Khan and Mainuddin Hawladar of Bangladesh Krishok Federation and Golam Sarwar of Bangladesh Krishi Farm Shromik Federation.
Barkat Ullah Maruf in his keynote presentation says, though the government has been claiming that the country have achieved self-sufficiency in food but the reality is we have been importing food from 1.86 Million Ton to 5.15 million Ton every year. 2.3 million Tons of food is also imported last fiscal year. Food dependency of the country of increasing population will go worse unless adequate budgetary allocation and subsidy for agriculture is ensured.
He added, the local farmers are being abandoned due to the dumping of the highly subsidized agro-companies’ products as the government organization BADC have been weakened by less budget allocation and wrong policies.
Aminur Rasul Babul said, there is no compensation mechanism for the local farmers who get a great loss by using the untested seeds marketed by the foreign companies. Our farmers have almost no support and security from the government as the farmers in other countries have. He added, 500 million taka for agriculture in islands (remote chor development) is nothing but a dramatic surprise by the government. We have seen this kind of allocation last year for the Haor areas but we have seen no implementation of it.
Subol Sarkar said, Cost of everything in agriculture is increasing including raw materials, fertilizer and water except the price of the crops and the hard effort of the farmers behind it. Farmers never got the cost he invested in return.
Syed Aminul Hauqe said during he moderates the press conference, the country should have an anti-dumping measures to protect the local farmers so that the highly subsidized agro-products don’t distort the local market of agricultural products. It ensures the local farmers to get the justified price for their crop. But due to the compromising attitude of the government of Bangladesh and misguided agriculture policy the multinational agro-companies are making money and in exchange the local farmers are being abandoned.
He added, agricultural research is very important the development of the country’s agricultural production but it’s a pity that we have almost no budget is seen in this regard.