Experts said the whole chain from agricultural production to marketing has been disrupted by the Covid-19 and climate change fallouts and called for providing farmers with cash incentives to keep them involved in the production system.
They were speaking at a virtual dialogue titled "Climate Change and Food Security in Coronavirus Period" organised on Saturday by Agami Bangladesh, a citizen platform.
Dr Jahangir Alam, vice-chancellor of the University of Global Village, said, "Farmers have suffered losses due to problems in marketing their produce during the Cavid-19 pandemic."
As a result, they do not have enough money, and in this situation, if they do not get the cash in their hands, it will affect the production system eventually, he added.
Citing an example of India, he said, "Farmers in India have been provided with cash assistance of Tk2,000 each. In this way, farmers in our country can be given incentives of at least Tk2,000. Doing so will cost the government a maximum of Tk3,000 crore but it will encourage farmers to increase their production."
Although, in the agricultural policy, there is a provision of setting up an agriculture price commission to ensure fair prices for agricultural products, it has been pending for a long time, speakers pointed out.
The implementation and modernisation of the market system also came up in the discussion.
At that time, Dr Mohammad Abdul Mueed, director general of the Department of Agricultural Extension, said, "The production situation of agricultural items is good. However, we are lagging behind in terms of the processing of agricultural products. There are lots of fruits like mango and pineapple. If these can be processed well, the production of the products will increase further."
Dr Kazi Khaliquzzaman, chairman of the Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation, said, "We are not able to produce quality products. Many companies make good products but cannot hold on to them later. Here we need technological development."
He said work is also underway to organise farmers, build warehouses for their produce and provide loans to them on easy terms.
"If we can do these things, we will be able to increase the yield of agricultural products, which we hope will make a significant contribution to the country's food security," he added.
At the beginning of the programme, Dr Ranjan Roy, a researcher and associate professor at the Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, said in a presentation that natural disasters such as heavy rains, floods, cyclones and pandemics like Cavid-19 have threatened the food security of 17 crore people in the country.
"Various plans have been taken to face the challenge. But if it is not implemented properly, a crisis will be created," he added.
He said the 68-day countrywide coronavirus shutdown disrupted agricultural production, food supply and demand. Fisheries, poultry and dairy farmers are severely affected. The coronavirus has affected all farmers, big and small alike.
"There are problems in various areas including agricultural production, transportation and marketing. Many people have reduced their expenses due to declining income. As a result, demand has declined which is affecting production," added Dr Ranjan.
He demanded proper planning and emphasised its implementation to get out of these problems.
The speakers also said there is no alternative to emphasising higher yields for ensuring food security.
They spoke about the practice of Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) to increase the export of agricultural products. According to the Department of Agricultural Extension, a policy for GAP practice is being prepared, which will be in place soon.