Agriculture grows consistently at 4.7per cent

Finance Minister AMA Muhith while addressing the parliament members said on Thursday that the farm sector has been consistently growing at 4.7 per cent per year in the past three years.

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The crop sub-sector alone has registered an average growth rate of 5.6 per cent. The “National Agricultural Policy, 2011” had been framed to achieve the target of making the country self-sufficient in food by 2013, said Muhith while delivering his budget proposal.

The rural farmers, as in the past, have been given priority. The minister has said the government has issued ‘Agricultural Inputs Card’ to as many as 1.40 crore farmers across the country.

The flood affected farmers of the ‘haor’ areas have been helped by free fertiliser and seeds.

Power tillers, tractors and agricultural equipment have also been given to the farmers of 35 districts at subsidised rates, according to the minister. A total subsidy of Tk 17,092 crore has been granted for urea and non-urea fertiliser in the last three years. An allocation of Tk 6,000 crore has been proposed as farm subsidy in the fiscal 2012-13. Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) has been strengthened to enhance its capacity to supply high yielding variety (HYV) seeds. BADC used to supply 18 per cent of Boro seeds but now the figure has gone up to 60 per cent, the minister added.

A target has been set to produce 1,66,252 tonnes of seeds in the 2012-13 FY. During the FY 2011-12, Tk 5.69 crore was allocated for the small and marginal farmers to facilitate corn cultivation. They were also provided with agricultural credit at only 4 per cent interest rate.

This incentive will continue in the next budget, said the minister. In the coming FY, the target of agricultural credit will be raised to Tk 14,130 crore. It was Tk 13,800 crore in 2011-12. He was pleased to announce that a crop insurance scheme on pilot basis has been introduced at Madhabpur upazila under Habiganj district.

To meet the growing demand for food grains, emphasis on extension of paddy cultivation in flood, saline and drought prone areas is given.

The agriculture department is stressing need for innovation of new varieties of paddy.

The cultivation of salinity-resistant Bina-8 and Bri-47 paddy has already begun. New varieties called Bri-51 and 54 salinity prone areas and Bri-51 and 52 for the flood prone areas have been invented.

Another variety of drought prone paddy called ‘Narica’ has been collected from Africa.

It has been possible to eradicate Monga permanently by cultivating Bina-7 along protection of Soil Quality with adoption of integreted farming activities and implementing social safety net programmes. He added putting emphasis on expanding cultivable land. In order to ensure fair prices for farm produce 490 ‘Farmers Marketing Group’, 18,000 ‘Farmers Club’ and growers’ market in 60 upazilas and wholesale markets in 21 districts have been built.

During the new fiscal the government plans to form 800 farmers’ clubs and construct 8 assemble centres.

The minister proposed to allocate Tk 8,917.52 crore, development and non-development budgets combined, for the ministry of Agriculture in the budget for FY 2012-13.

The contribution of fisheries and livestock sub-sector to GDP is 8 per cent. In the current fiscal year, fish production will increase to 32.2 lakh tones.
The number of fish sanctuaries in the rivers and water bodies has been increased to 500.

As a result, 12 virtually extinct species of fish have reappeared, claimed the minister. Safe breeding of Hilsha has been ensured and shrimp farms have been increased.

Milk production will be 30 lakh tones while meat production will be 20 lakh tones and egg production will be 791 crore pieces.

The minister did regret the fact that despite various incentives, domestic milk production can only meet 20 per cent of the total demand.

News Source: 
The Independent