The prime minister has announced Tk5,000 crore for farmers and a new refinancing fund of Tk3,000 crore in the proposed budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, however, questions remain about how much loans the farmer can avail through banking channels.
In this case, if the prime minister had set up a "farmer incentive" fund of at least Tk2,000 crore and could have provided money directly to the farmers, it would have given a boost to the rural economy. If the direct flow of money went to the farmers, it would play a helpful role in increasing production.
The prime minister of our neighbouring country India is directly assisting farmers by setting up such a fund, which could have been included in this year's budget.
A strong agriculture commission could have been formed to get the correct results from the way the agricultural sector is being given importance at a time of crisis. The commission could provide effective guidance to government agencies by observing, researching and analysing data on various issues related to food and agriculture. But no instructions came about that either.
Another big issue is the supply chain of agricultural products, and the marketing representatives who work for it have no training to develop it. There could have been instruction with a little allocation for training, which would increase the assurance of proper marketing of the produce of the farmers.
Besides, some infrastructural development is needed to preserve agricultural products. It is not only the government that has to work for this, but the private sector too can also develop storage systems. If necessary, this work can be done based on public-private partnership.
The budget also includes a production-oriented project for food security. A project called Farm Mechanisation worth Tk3,196 crore has been proposed. If it is implemented there will be two benefits. This will create many sub-sectors of employment and agriculture. Mechanisation will increase imports, production and marketing. Some skilled and unskilled workers will also get job opportunities here. At the same time, agricultural production will also increase.
Apart from this, the duty exemption on import of agricultural machinery and import of raw poultry will directly help in increasing the production of agricultural products.
MA Sattar Mandal is a professor emeritus and former vice-chancellor of Bangladesh Agricultural University, a former member of the Planning Commission and currently a member of the Expert Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture.