A total of 86 percent people with physical and leprosy disabilities in Bangladesh are directly involved in agriculture while income of 88 percent of farmers with disabilities has been reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The information was revealed in the 'Research Findings Dissemination and Journalist Award Giving Ceremony' at Krishibid Institution Bangladesh (KIB) Complex auditorium in the city on Saturday organized by The Leprosy Mission International-Bangladesh and supported by Bangladesh Krishak League, ICCO-Cooperation and NOREC.
Two studies titled 'The Role of People with Disabilities in Agriculture' and 'COVID-19 Impacts on the Lives & Livelihoods of People with Disabilities' were conducted in between September and December 2020.
Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud was present at the event as the chief guest while Samir Chanda, President of Bangladesh Krishok League, Umme Kulsum Smrity, MP, General Secretary, Bangladesh Krishok League, Mahfuz Hossain Mridah, Director (In Charge), Field Services Wing, Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Salomon Sumon Halder, Country Director, The Leprosy Mission International-Bangladesh (TLMI-B), Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Head of Programs, Country Office Bangladesh, ICCO Cooperation, and Jiptha Boiragee, Project Support Coordinator, TLMI-B, were present as special guests.
Attending the event as the chief guest, Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud said it is exemplary when persons with disability contribute to agriculture.
"Agriculture is a laborious job, I appreciate persons with disabilities who have been working this excruciating job and contribute to national agricultural production," the Minister said.
The Information Minister urged all to be aware to protect arable land and emphasized rooftop agriculture and agricultural activities in cities alongside rural areas.
After handing over awards to journalists who reported on farmers with disabilities, the Information Minister thanked them for speaking for the vulnerable people of the society.
The Minister also thanked The Leprosy Mission International-Bangladesh for doing research on persons with disabilities in agriculture.
Attending the event as special guest, Bangladesh Krishok League President Shamir Chanda, said "Since my party is an organization of farmers, we will take steps to include farmers with disabilities at all levels."
"We'll honor successful farmers with disabilities in agriculture next year," he added.
Nine Journalists Awarded
The Leprosy Mission International-Bangladesh awarded nine journalists for reporting on persons with disabilities in agriculture.
Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud handed over the crests to the reporters at the event.
Hasnat Rabby, reporter of Channel 24, got the first prize for report on 'Role of People with Disabilities in Agriculture', BTV reporter Afrin Jahan and DBC reporter Tahsina Sadeque jointly secured 2nd position while Jamuna TV reporter Ramiz Ahsan and GTV reporter Ferdous Arefin occupied the third position.
Newspapers: Dainik Amader Shomoy reporter M H Robin got the first position in newspaper reporting, Desh Rupantor reporter Md Abdullah Al Mamun became second while Bangladesh Pratidin reporter Nizamul Haque Bipul and Bhorer Kagoj's Satkhira Correspondent Sheikh Mahtab Hossain jointly obtained the third position.
Besides, Mir Khairul Alam of Bijoy Bangladesh and freelance journalist Roton Malo were also awarded.
A total of 210 physically challenged people in 32 upazilas under 16 districts of Bangladesh, attended face to face interviews as key respondents in the study.
Of them 42 percent were found as the main wage-earning members of the family.
According to the study findings, 62% of persons with disabilities are involved in poultry farming, 52% in livestock rearing, 36% in vegetables farming while 37% people in cultivation.
The study conducted by TLMI-B also reveals that only 12.86% farmers with disabilities are government-recognized farmers while the rest of 87.14% farmers with disabilities are deprived of the government services in agriculture sector.
Besides, only 4% of the farmers with disabilities are associated with the agriculture-based committees at union, upazila and district levels and the remaining 98% are not associated with any committee.
The study findings also reveal that 24% farmers with disabilities face problems regarding disable-friendly agricultural equipment.
Meanwhile, 31% of the farmers with disabilities face difficulties in getting agri-loan, while 32% of the farmers with disabilities informed that they have no money or capital to start agriculture despite having capability.
In response to another question in the quantitative study, 67 percent of the farmers with disabilities said they need capital assistance, 55 percent said they should be included in government policy, 51 percent demanded fertilizer while 48 percent wanted seed assistance.
A separate study titled "COVID-19 Impacts on Life & Livelihood of Farmers with Disabilities in Bangladesh", reveals that income of 88 percent farmers with disabilities has been reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This study shows also 81 percent farmers with disabilities were deprived of proper treatment facilities thanks to the pandemic.
The study also reveals that 65.14 percent farmers with disabilities lost the scope of income during the lockdown due to the pandemic. On the other hand, 36 percent farmers with disabilities have been forced to work at low wages.
After reviewing the study findings, the researchers suggested that since changing of any policy is a lengthy process, the government agricultural facilities should be made available for all the farmers with disabilities on priority basis by issuing gazette notification as an emergency response to COVID-19.
Professor Dr. Shahana Nasrin, Institute of Social Welfare and Research, Dhaka University and Ashley Comma Roy, Assistant Professor, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh, Jiptha Boireagee, Project Support Coordinator, TLMI-B & researcher James Sujit Malo, TLMI-B, performed as mentors in the study.