Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said that the government wants to build the country so as to eliminate need for import.
"Awami League-led government wanted to build the country in such a way that we do not need to import any commodity from abroad," she said while inaugurating the loan distribution programme 2016 to make Bangladesh self-reliant in milk production at Krishibid Institution auditorium at Khamarbari in the capital. Sheikh Hasina, also the Awami League President, called upon private sector entrepreneurs to help boost milk and fish production, preserve and process those to meet the local demand and export abroad.
Not only milk and meat, she said, the country could also enhance production of leather and leather products and thus boost foreign currency reserve through increasing exports.
Referring to the growing demand for halal meat in Muslim countries across the globe, the Prime Minister said Bangladesh could tap such opportunity to a great extent through increasing farming and rearing of cows, black goats, buffaloes, process those for exporting abroad.
Wishing the success of the Tk 200 crore loan distribution programme 2016 at five per cent interest rate, Sheikh Hasina said through this programme, the marginal farmers will be more encouraged to rear cows and produce milk.
She said the country will be self-reliant in milk production strengthening the national economy further. The Prime Minister underscored the need for preserving as well as processing milk to help flourish the milk-processing industries and thus diversify milk by-products like butter, ghee and cheese.
"These have huge local demand and we can also export those keeping in mind nearly 80 to 90 lakh Bangladeshi expatriates abroad to earn more foreign currencies."
Citing her government's bid to establish some 100 economic zones, Sheikh Hasina said agro and agro-processing industries would be given preference in those economic zones to boost the export basket apart from meeting the local demand.
Two beneficiaries of the programme -- one from Badarganj of Rangpur another from Tungipara of Gopalganj -- also spoke at the function.
She mentioned 6,970,000 tonnes of liquid milk were produced in 2014-2015 fiscal which was 880,000 tonnes more than the previous fiscal and three times more than the amount produced in 2001.
Spelling out different government steps for increasing milk production, the Prime Minister said the government approved a new project to construct bull station and laboratory for developing species through research.
The Tk 200 crore refinancing scheme has been formed by the Bangladesh Bank for providing loans to the farmers for milk production and artificial insemination for five years. Each farmer will be able to take this loan amounting to a maximum of Tk 200,000 for procuring and raring highest four calves.
The loan will be provided through 13 banks and financial institutions at a rate of highest five per cent. The 13 banks and financial institutions will get such refinancing facility from the Bangladesh Bank at bank rate (now five per cent) interest while these banks and financial institutions would get the additional five per cent interest against their loans as loss or subsidy from the government.
The female and marginal farmers will get preference for receiving loans from such refinancing facility while the loan recipient farmers will get the highest 54 months' time, including 14 months of grace period, to adjust their loans with interest.
The Department of Livestock Services arranged the function with Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock Md Maksudul Hasan Khan in the chair. Fisheries and Livestock Minister Mohammad Sayedul Haque, State Minister for Fisheries and Livestock Narayan Chandra Chanda and Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Atiur Rahman were present as special guests, while Bank and Financial Institution Secretary Dr M Aslam Alam delivered the welcome address.