Farmers’ organisations decry inadequate budget to agriculture
Leaders of farmers' organizations at a press conference on Monday expressed their frustration over the inadequate allocation for the agriculture sector in the proposed national budget for 2018-19.
They also demanded visionary and specific allocation in the budget to face the long-term challenges towards achieving the food security. The press conference was jointly organized by 12 farmers' organizations, including Coastal Farmers' Association, Bangladesh Fish Workers Alliance, Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation, National Women Farmers and Workers Association, Bangladesh Adibashi Samity, Haor Farmers and Fishers Alliance, Gram Labour Resource Centre, Nolchira Pani Unnayan Somity, Dighon CIG, Kendriyo Krishak Moitree, Bangladesh Farmers' Forum and COAST Trust at the National Press Club in the city.
Md. Mujibul Haque Munir, Secretariat Coordinator of Bangladesh Farmers Forum presented the key positions of the group in the press conference moderated by Mustafa Kamal Akand of COAST Trust.
Among others Abdul Majid, secretary of Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation, Md. Shahabuddin, Secretary of Coastal Farmers Association, Samsuzzaman Khokon, Chief of the Gram Unnayan Sanagstha and Syed Aminul Haque, Secetary of EquityBD also spoke at the press conference.
In his presentation, Md. Mujibul Haque Munir said, though the total budget has been increased by about 16 percent in the proposed budget, the allocation for the agriculture ministry has been decreased by 0.41 percent.
In the Annual Development Plan the allocation for the ministry is only 1.1%, while about 46% of the total labour force is engaged with the agriculture sector, which is already experiencing negative impact of climate change, he said.
"Our agricultural land is decreasing by 1 percent each year. Due to rapid urbanization, we are also losing land and food deficit is increasing. These challenges are going to create serious threats for Bangladesh in achieving food security", he added,
"Budget allocation should be made keeping those challenges in mind; special allocation is needed to enhance our capacity to face these challenges in future. Unfortunately, the proposed budget doesn't seem to consider those challanges," he said.
Abdul Majid said, excise duty has been increased to 28 percent in rice import, but this will not bring any benefit for the farmers, as they have already sold their production. This initiative will benefit the middlemen. Rice procurement time must be reconsidered so that marginalised farmers can be benefited, he said.
Md. Shahabuddin said, in 2017-18 allocation for agriculture subsidy was Tk 9000 crore, but Tk. 3000 crore remained unspent. "We demand to increase the allocation for subsidy as well as the proper utilization of the allocation. In many cases agriculture subsidy is going to wrong hands, who are not involved with agriculture. This has to be changed," he said. -UNB