'Import can't ensure food security'

Leaders of two forums have urged the government not to retreat from its farmers-friendly policies.

Published : 28 June 2011, 05:53 AM
Updated : 28 June 2011, 05:53 AM
Dhaka, June 28 (bdnews24.com) -- Agricultural Reporters' Forum (ARF) and Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihood (CSRL) have production-based food security instead of dependence on import.
CSRL member-secretary Ziaul Haque Mukta made the demand at a post-budget discussion jointly organised by CSRL and ARF at the National Press Club on Tuesday.
He appreciated the government's last two years' performance for introducing agriculture cards for the small and marginal farmers, distribution of farm loans, giving subsidy on fertiliser, power and diesel, and social security programmes.
"But the government has stepped back from its announced policy by reducing allocation for agriculture in the national budget, withdrawing subsidy from diesel, hiking fertiliser price and importing rice in the last Aman season."
Demanding subsidy and more allocations for the agriculture sector, Haque said the government should not retreat from its farmers-friendly steps of the last two years.
Placing the new budget in parliament on June 9, finance minister Abul Mal Abdul Muhith proposed reduction in subsidy to the agriculture sector by 12.19 percent for the upcoming fiscal year. He proposed Tk 45 billion as agricultural subsidy for the 2011-12 fiscal year against Tk 57 billion in the current fiscal year.
The agriculture sector got subsidy of Tk 48.92 billion in 2009-10 fiscal, while Tk 57 billion this year. He proposed setting the farm loan distribution target at Tk 138 billion for the new fiscal.
Muhith, however, proposed Tk 74.11 billion for the entire sector.
"Agriculture sector is one of the key tools to achieve the growth target. The growth rate will increase when there will be satisfactory farm production. Analysing the economic statistics of the last few years, we can say that there was increased output in the sector when there was increased allocation for it," Haque said.
They also called for proper market management to control the high price hike of foods, increasing investment in agriculture sector to achieve the growth target and providing subsidy to the farmers.
CSRL coordinator Ahsan Uddin Ahmed, ARF president Altaf Hossain and its general secretary Shafiqul Islam Juel, among others, spoke at the discussion.