POST TIME: 25 May, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Nat’l commission for fair prices of crops demanded
Farmers’ bodies want special allocation in FY2018-19 budget to construct permanent embankments to save coastal farm lands from erosion

Nat’l commission for fair prices of crops demanded

As many as 12 national and local farmers’ organisations yesterday demanded the formation of a national price commission to ensure fair prices for their produce. They also strongly recommended that a special allocation be made in the upcoming budget for FY2018-19 to build permanent embankments to save coastal agricultural land from erosion. The farmers' organisations raised these demands at a press conference  at the National Press Club.

The press briefing was jointly organised by the Coastal Farmers’ Association, Bangladesh Fish Workers’ Alliance, Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation, National Women Farmers' Association, Bangladesh Adibashi Samity, Haor Farmers' and Fishers' Alliance, Gram Labour Resource Centre, Nolchira Pani Unnayan Samity, Dighon CIG, Kendriyo Krishak Moitree, Bangladesh Farmers’ Forum and COAST Trust.  

Md Mujibul Haque Munir, coordinator of the Bangladesh Farmers’ Forum, presented a keynote paper on the occasion.

Abdul Majid, secretary of the Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation, Md Shahabuddin, secretary of the Coastal Farmers Association, and Samsuzzaman Khokon, chief of the Gram Unnayan Sanagstha, among others, spoke at the press conference, with Mustafa Kamal Akand of the COAST Trust as the moderator.  

Md Mujibul Haque Munir said that the country’s 46 per cent labour resources are engaged in the agricultural sector. “Our food security depends on this sector. So, at least 20 per cent of the total national budget should be allocated to the agricultural sector. Though the size of the national budget is increasing every year, the allocation for the agricultural sector is not increasing proportionately,” he mentioned.

He also said the national budget for FY2017–18 saw an increase of about 30 per cent compared to the budget for FY2016-17, but the allocation for agriculture went down by 0.81 per cent.

The allocation for the agricultural sector was 4.01 per cent of the total budget in FY2016–17, but it was reduced to 3.4 per cent in FY2017–18, he noted.

Abdul Majid said farmers must have control over seeds in order to reduce their dependence on multinational seed companies. “We can make Bangladesh a seed-sufficient country by ensuring capacity building if the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) is strengthened,” he added. Md Shahabuddin, a farmer from Bhola, said he had to spend about Tk. 600–650 to produce a maund of rice, but was unable to sell for more than Tk. 400–450 per maund. “We demand just prices for our produce. The government should reform the current rice collection policy. The government should procure our produce immediately after harvest from the field,” he added. The introduction of such a system would benefit farmers, he said, adding that it would curb the dependence on middlemen.  “We also demand a national price commission for supervising the overall process and ensure just prices our produce,” said Md Shahabuddin.

Saiduzzaman Khokon said that agriculture subsidies often go into the hands of people who are not involved in agriculture. “This has to be changed. In all budgets and plans concerning agriculture, participation of farmers must be ensured,” he added. Mustafa Kamal Akanda said the country is losing 1 per cent of agricultural land every year and about 1 million people are becoming homeless due to river erosion. He demanded social allocation to build permanent embankments to save coastal agricultural land from erosion.