There is no alternative to mechanisation of the agriculture and farming process in the country, said agriculture specialists at a discussion programme on Friday.
Mentioning that no better opportunity may come in future than the present time to do technology-based agriculture, they stressed preventing anomalies in distribution of agricultural machinery among farmers at subsidised rates.
They also called for taking steps to attract educated youth to the agriculture sector early in their career and asked for concerted efforts from everyone concerned, including agriculturists, teachers, inventors and farmers, to contribute for the development of the sector.
The dialogue entitled "Agricultural Mechanisation and Institutional Financing" was organised by the Bangladesh Agricultural Teachers Society at the ERF Auditorium in the capital to highlight the importance, problems and potential of the agricultural sector ahead of the national budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
Speaking on the occasion, Hasanuzzaman Kallol, additional secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, said, "In the last financial year, Tk225 crore was allocated for the purchase of agricultural machinery, which we have been able to spend in full."
"Tk680 crore is going to be allocated for this purpose in the forthcoming financial year. Hopefully, we will be able to utilise it too with the help of all concerned."
Mentioning that the National Agricultural Mechanisation Policy 2020 has been formulated, he said, "We're working with everyone to make it work."
He further added that the government is taking measures to reduce down payments in purchasing agro machineries for farmers in haor areas.
Emphasising the importance of mechanisation of agriculture, he also said that a modern machine can perform the work done by 100 persons for the convenience of the farmers.
Large machines are needed to work day and night, especially in haor areas, he said, adding farmers are getting the facility to purchase these equipment in instalments through various banks.
Sharmind Neelormi, economist and professor at Jahangirnagar University, presented the keynote paper at the discussion programme.
She said the mechanisation that has taken place today has come in the midst of an evolution.
A farmer is not just a farmer. He is sometimes a small businessman, sometimes an entrepreneur or sometimes an employee, she maintained.
Noting that women's participation in agriculture has increased by 118% over the last 15 years, she said agricultural activities are a concerted effort. Teachers, inventors and farmers have to contribute as much as agriculturists have to contribute here, she observed.
Amir Hossain, member of the ICAB and ICMAB, said steps must be taken so that farmers who have agricultural machinery can be identified online. "Then, those who actually need loans and equipment will get the facilities. In this case, a tracking system is essential."
Many of those who are taking the allocation of instruments are not farmers, he pointed out, adding, "Maybe, some rich people buy agricultural machinery by taking loans in the names of some real farmers of their locality. Therefore, in case of giving out loans and machinery, the right farmers have to be selected."
Agricultural expert Professor Md Sadrul Amin said perhaps, there will not be any better opportunity than the present time to do technology-based agriculture.
"If people join agriculture by taking agricultural education after passing their HSC, 1-2 lakh people will get jobs every year. In that case, they will be able to succeed on their own and there will be a revolution in the field of agriculture as well," he opined.
Mozahedul Islam, secretary general of the Bangladesh Agricultural Teachers Society, delivered the welcome address speech at the dialogue.
It may be mentioned that in the revised budget for the current fiscal year, the expenditure on agriculture has been estimated at Tk27,023 crore, which is 5.39% of the original budget.
Moderated by agriculturist Rezaul Karim Siddique, the event was also addressed, among others, by Anwar Farooq, former agriculture secretary; Habibur Rahman, former deputy director of the Department of Agricultural Extension; and Asad bin Rashid, assistant vice president (Agricultural Assistance Division) of Prime Bank.