Bangladesh unveils Tk 50bn stimulus for farmers hit by coronavirus shutdown

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has unveiled a new Tk 50 billion stimulus package for the agriculture sector to mitigate the impact of a nationwide shutdown due to a coronavirus outbreak.

Published : 12 April 2020, 07:08 AM
Updated : 12 April 2020, 09:44 AM

The government has also allocated Tk 90 billion in the upcoming budget to subsidise the fertiliser sector in a bid to ensure that agricultural production continues without a hitch.

She made the announcement during a video conference with government officials from her official residence Ganabhaban on Sunday.

Bangladesh Bank will form a re-financing scheme of Tk 50 billion to inject capital into the agriculture sector and money from the fund will be disbursed with 5% interest, the prime minister said.

Small and medium scale farmers in rural areas producing grains, fruits, flowers; fisheries poultry farms, dairy farms will be eligible for loans from the fund.

Bangladesh Bank will also continue to provide loans at 4 percent interest rate for farmers producing spices like onion, garlic, ginger will continue, according to the premier.

“We have already announced around Tk 720 billion stimulus package to safeguard the commerce and industrial sector from the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus epidemic. But, having an agriculture-based economy, we need to ensure that our farming sector continues its smooth production,”

“Food security  must be ensured above all,” she added.

The Ministry of Food will buy another 200,000 tonnes of rice so that farmers can get the deserved price for their Boro harvest this season.

The Ministry of Agriculture has allocated Tk 2 billion to be used in automation for harvesting paddy due to a scarcity of labour in the farming sector. However, the government also encouraged the unemployed to consider working in the farming sector.

Another Tk 1.5 billion will be allocated for the distribution of seeds and seedlings among the affected farmers so that production continues smoothly in the country, Hasina said.

“We have allocated the Tk 50 bn fund to boost production and alleviate people from their hardship in the process."