Bangabandhu, PM Sheikh Hasina & Agriculture

Bangabandhu, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina & Our Agricultural development.

…..Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman

The Father of Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the best Bengali nation for thousands years, was a Agro-friendly vetern Politician. Bangabandhu clearly understood that there is no alternative of agriculture to build a prosperous golden Bangladesh and to ensure food security for Bangladeshi people..

Bangabandhu also knew very well that agriculture is the prime concern to supply food for hunger. Therefore, during his short regime Bangabandhu took some ground breaking steps for the development of agriculture in newly emerged independent Bangladesh. All these steps are as follows:

➽Land Rent waiver upto 25 bighas land.

➽Introduce interest free loans for rural based farmers.

➽Rehabilitation of 22 lakh farmers after independence.

➽In 1972 Bangabandhu delivered huge amount of seeds among the farmers; that was either free or at nominal price. These were:16,125 metric ton HYV rice seeds; 44,000 metric ton Jute seeds; and 1,037 metric ton wheat seeds.

➽He Launched firstly the tree planting campaign to maintain the balance of the natural environment.

➽ In the first budget of Bangabandhu regime, subsidy provision in Agriculture were launched for supplying fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation equipment.

➽ As a part of prime support minimum pricing of crops like paddy, jute, sugarcane etc were assigned.

➽ Undertaken village-based green revolution programs.

➽ In1972-73 fiscal year, out of  500 crore taka of development budget, taka 101 crore was allocated only for agricultural development. That was only possible due to Bangabandhu’s agri-friendly policy & thinkings.

➽ Bangabandhu’s agri-friendly thinking was not limited to plants, flowers and crop production. Overall agricultural development was the utmost concern of Bangabandhu’s agricultural ideas.

➽ After completion of graduation in agriculture, Agriculturists were posted as second class officers. As a result, the demand for giving  first class officers status to the Agriculturists like doctors and engineers had been rising since before independence. This demand continued even after independence.

            At a reception meeting held by BAUCSU on 13 February 1973 at Bangladesh Agricultural University ,Mymensingh campus Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gladly accepted the demand of the Agriculturists as on priority basis.

Not only this, Bangabandhu said in the domestic discussion, the status of Agriculturists will be the highest in Agricultural Bangladesh. On the same day (February 13, 1973) Bangabandhu strongly declared that Agriculturists got  first class officers rank status when they entered into the government services.

Over time, as a part of their gratitude, Agricultural graduates, have continued their efforts to make the country self-sufficient in food and economic development as directed by Bangabandhu. From then ,the influx of meritorious students in agricultural education continues to increase. However, the status of agriculturists was again lowered in the  salary structure of 1986. In the face of intense agitation by the Agriculturists, the then government was forced to restore the lost respect of the Agriculturists. As a result, because of Bangabandhu, today we the Agriculturists can proudly say,

‘Bangabandhu’s contribution, Agriculturist class one’.(বঙ্গবন্ধুর অবদান কৃষিবিদ ক্লাস ওয়ান)

Those who came to power after the brutal assassination of Bangabandhu tried to devalue the Agriculturists in various ways. After that, no arrangements could be made to commemorate the special day of February 13 in the midst of a different kind of nasty politics & political regime.

 Finally, with the joint efforts of all Agriculturists, February 13 was declared as the day of Agriculturists.  As a result, since 2011, the day of 13th February is being celebrated as the day of Agriculturists through various arrangements with due honour and dignity to Bangabandhu.
On this day, Bangabandhu’s outstanding contribution to Agriculture and Agriculturists were remembered with utmost devotion and respect.

 Despite the efforts of Agriculturists, Bangladesh did not achieve food self-sufficiency until 1996;  although at  that time the population of the country had increased from 7.5 crore to 13 crore. This time Agriculturist did not achieve the desired goal as they were not provided the necessary fertilizers, seeds, and other facilities to solve this problems.
On March 15, 1995, 16 innocent farmers lost their lives in a movement to get fertilizer at a fair price.
           In 1996 Bangabandhu’s worthy daughter popular Awami league leader Sheikh Hasina came into political power and she started a landmark change in the development of agriculture.
In this period of Awami regime in 1996, enormous development and various revolutionary changes of fertilizers, seeds, irrigation system, increase in food stocks, fair market system of agricultural products had happened . As a result, the country became self-sufficient in food.

Agriculture is the root of our culture. No matter how much we improve in science and technology, we have to go back to agriculture and farmers again and again to meet the demand for food and nutrition. In this moment of the twenty-first century, we can emphasize the unprecedented development of all branches of science. Nevertheless, people all over the world still have to rely on rich and glorious agricultural occupation for human food and nutrition.

          Very few countries in the world have developed so much in agriculture in such a short time as like as Bangladesh. What is needed now is to ensure safe and nutritious food. Still we have a big challenge to ensure food security for about 170 million people in the country.
The present government and the Ministry of Agriculture are much concern in this regards. Hopefully the solution to this problems is just a matter of time.

Immediately after the independence of the country, the cultivable land in this country was 1 crore 85 lakh hectares and the total food production was 95 lakh metric ton.
At present the amount of cultivable land has been reduced to 85 lakh hectares but the total food grain production in the country in 2016-17 has increased 407.14 lakh metric tons.
In 1971, the population of the country was 7 and a half crore and now that number has increased to about 17 crore. Again, 24 lakh new faces are being added to the country every year. On the other hand, the amount of cultivable land in our country is constantly decreasing. One authentic statistical information says, as a result of setting up of industries, urbanization, housing, construction of roads and river erosion, the agricultural land in the country is declining by 68,700 hectares every year. Due to salinity in the southern part of the country, crop land is declining by 20 percent every day.

   In spite of natural disasters such as floods, droughts, salinity and climate change, our agriculture has not been stumbled; moreover  our agriculture is moving forward at a great pace.
All the sister organizations under the Ministry of Agriculture are working day and night to meet the food needs of this huge population.
The Agriculturist and their collaborators  of these institutions, are inventing and expanding new agricultural technology ans crop varieties.

The present ruling government is giving them overall support through the Ministry of Agriculture.
The trend of Bangabandhu’s agricultural development has been continued by his worthy daughter, Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, during the rule of all his governments.
That is why now a revolutionary change has happned in the overall agriculture sector. Agriculture has now undergone diversification and commercialization. The present government has gained a reputation as an agro-friendly government. Due to the continuation of Bangabandhu’s trend of agricultural development, today’s food self-sufficient Bangladesh has been recognized in the world court.

Needless to say, the way the present government is providing government grants with patronage in all sectors of agriculture, fisheries and livestock is unparalleled anywhere in Asia. Even in very few countries in the world.

After attending two international agricultural seminars (6th International Conference on Agriculture, 2019, Bangkok ,Thailand & International Seminar on Agriculture, Research, Industry & Livelihood, 2019, BCKV, Kallyani, West Bengal, India) held in Thailand and India in 2019, such an idea has been rooted within my mind.

The world community is fantastically looking at our recent overall development index, including agricultural development, with astonishment.

Former President of the United States Henry Kissinger criticised Bangladesh as the bottomless basket. Now Bangladesh is a bottomed, rich and prosperous Bangladesh. Our agriculture has come a long way today due to the extensive patronage of the government in the agricultural sector, outstanding funding, uninterrupted supply of fertilizers, repeated reduction in fertilizer prices, adoption of more agro-based projects, subsidization of agriculture, supply of agricultural machinery at 50-70% affordable prices and other agricultural friendly policies.

The combined efforts of farmers, agriculturists and their collaborators, we can say with pride today:

(1) Bangladesh ranks third in the world in rice production;

 (2) Bangladesh ranks third in the world in vegetable production;

(3) Bangladesh ranks fourth in the world in fish production;

(4) Bangladesh ranks fourth in the world in goat production;

(5) Bangladesh ranks seventh in the world in mango production;

(6) Bangladesh ranks fourth in the world in guava production;

(7) Bangladesh ranks seventh in the world in potato production;

(8) Bangladesh tops in Asia in agricultural mechanization;

 (9) Bangladesh ranks best in the world in the production of fruit crop varieties.

In response to the global and national corona crisis, our Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken various initiatives to keep the trend of agricultural production active. These are the distribution of agricultural loans at 4% simple interest, the establishment of 32 vegetable gardens in each union, various incentive activities along with various ago-based programs & Project.

Honorable Prime Minister has been giving necessary directions to the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that the food crisis does not create any national problem in the wake of the Corona Crisis.

We firmly believe that the way in which our agriculture is moving forward at a tremendous pace with the support and funding of the government, the agriculture of Bangladesh will occupy the best place in the world in the days to come.

We look forward to that good day!

Joy Bangabandhu!

May Mujib’s birth centenary be successful!

30 July, 2020

Sources: Electronic, print & online media