Country has sufficient food reserves: PM
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday firmly said that the country now has an adequate stock of food grain.
"Our food reserve is sufficient to face weather impact of another flood. A total of 1.06 crore tonnes of food grain are reserved in the country combining the state, private preserver, mill owners and farmers," she said adding, "More is being imported to avoid the crisis."
The Prime Minister said this while distributing 'Bangabandhu Jatiya Krishi Purashkar' (Bangabandhu National Agriculture Award) for Bengali year 1421 and 1422 at a function at Osmani Memorial Hall.
Mentioning that the government is purchasing food from abroad to increase the stock, the PM said, ""We are importing additional food from many countries to maintain our reserves so that our people do not suffer. We have also reduced the import tariff."
"The government also trying to ensure food security for the countrymen through improving food productions," she added.
The Prime Minister said government is purchasing extra food from abroad as production was hampered in haor areas caused by flash flood and normal flood in the other parts of the country to check any possibility of food shortage in the country.
Sheikh Hasina also said in 2005-2006, total food production of the country was 2.80 crore tones while in 2015, the production rose to 3.88 crore tonnes.
"During the Awami League regime between 1996 and 2001, Bangladesh produced sufficient food, but when the party returned to power in 2009 there was a shortage," she said.
The Prime Minister said that country is hearing of another flooding due to our geographic location, we have to weather such natural disasters from time to time.
Aimed at boosting agricultural education, she said, Awami League government established three more agricultural universities in the country after coming to power in 1996.
Sheikh Hasina said BNP and their allies didn't like the success of food autarky as it would close their door of begging to foreign countries seeking food support.
So, they made Bangladesh into a food-deficit nation after coming to power in 2001. But, it was vital to be self-sufficient in food to live with dignity amidst world community, she said.
Sheikh Hasina also laid importance on giving agricultural education to students in the field to allow them know about the cultivation system and sources of foods and fruits they take round the year.
The Prime Minister said she has already asked the education minister for inclusion of such an educative system in the curriculum which will take the students to the agriculture fields in villages during their academic session and give them some tasks on cultivation and harvesting of crops.
"In many developed countries, she said, kids find supermarkets as the source of their foods and fruits. We don't want our children to be blind in such a way, and they should be taken to the agriculture fields," she said.
Laying importance of extensive research on agriculture Sheikh Hasina said success in this area is not possible without research.
For producing and distribution of high quality seeds Bangabandhu established the National Agriculture Research Council (NARC), Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) and many other agro-based institutions.
Agronomists found them in the first-class job during the rule of Bangabandhu, the Prime Minister said adding that Father of the Nation had done this to encourage the children to pursue their studies in agriculture.
Bangabandhu constituted the 'Bangabandhu Krishi Purashkar Fund' in 1973 to encourage the researchers in this field, she said.
The Prime Minister said the scientists can overcome many difficult hurdles if they get minimum opportunities.
The country has huge potentials of food processing industries as they can earn foreign exchange through export as well as fulfil the growing local demand, the prime minister said.
Sheikh Hasina said agricultural lands should be protected from urbanization and unplanned industrialization.
The government in every Bengali year gives Bangabandhu Jatiya Krishi Purashkar', highest state recognition for contribution to the development of the country's agriculture sector.
Five gold, nine silver and 18 bronze medals in 10 categories are given to different organizations and individuals in each year for their contribution to the agriculture development and research.
The awardees received medals, cash and certificates from the prime minister.
Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury presided over the function while Minister for Environment and Forests Anwar Hossain Monju was present as special guest. Agriculture Secretary Moinuddin Abdullah conducted the award distribution ceremony.