As a gift from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the government has provided a financial incentive of nearly Tk569 crore to around 4.85 lakh pandemic-stricken farmers in fisheries and livestock sectors.
Agriculture Minister Md Abdur Razzaque inaugurated the incentive distribution programme at the Osmani Memorial Auditorium in the capital on Wednesday.
The financial incentives have been provided under the Emergency Fund Release Programme of the Livestock and Dairy Development Project and the Sustainable Coastal and Marine Fisheries Project.
More than 4.07 lakh verified livestock farmers from 466 upazilas have been given over Tk468 crore in 15 categories and 78,074 verified fishery farmers from 65 upazilas have been given Tk100 crore in seven categories.
Among the livestock farmers, around 3.1 lakh are engaged in dairy farming, nearly 98 thousand in poultry farming and more than eight thousand in duck farming.
The incentive money was immediately sent directly to Nagad, bKash and bank accounts of the farmers, officials said.
Speaking as the chief guest, Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque said, "By 2030, we will bring down the extreme poverty rate in the country to zero and the poverty rate to 5% where the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock will be able to contribute the most."
He said that the production of eggs and milk has increased a lot and it is now possible to ensure nutritious food for every person in the country by using farms' capacity.
Mentioning that the per capita income of the country has not increased, the agriculture minister said when the production of agricultural products increases, farmers do not get the fair price of fish, milk and eggs.
"Now our challenge is to increase people's income and process food."
He also mentioned that the government is giving money directly to the farmers' mobile or bank accounts so that the middlemen cannot embezzle the fund.
The minister said that there are plans to provide incentives to another 2 lakh Covid-affected farmers.
Calling on everyone to eat broilers, he said that Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, also eats this variety of chickens.
"But we are so health-conscious that we do not eat broiler which is developed by scientists in our country. Now I wish to go on television and speak, advertising that farm chickens and fishes are not risky for health," he added.
Speaking as a special guest, Planning Minister MA Mannan said that the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the whole world.
"There we are in the best shape. Such a large country like China is in a worse position than us. This is not a matter of arrogance, this is the reality."
While presiding over the event, Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim said, "We are providing this incentive as a step to continue the development efforts of the government."
In this process, the government has not identified the beneficiaries by their affiliation to political parties such as BNP, Awami League and Jatiya Party, he added.
Dhirendra Debnath Shambhu, president of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, and Raunak Mahmud, secretary to the ministry, among others spoke on the occasion.