Dhaka to restrict rice import to save farmers: Minister

Dhaka, May 19 – Though stopping rice import entirely is not possible, it can be restricted to save the country’s farmers, said Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Sunday.
“Both agriculture and farmers are the driving forces of the country. So, it’s the moral duty of the government to resolve their problems,” he said.
The minister said this when media personality and agriculture development activist Shykh Seraj presented recommendations on the agriculture sector at the ERD office of the Finance Ministry ahead of the upcoming budget.
“As production was good this year, we could export rice to those countries that need rice. We have to give emphasis on rice export. So, steps will have to be taken for exporting rice. It’ll be done even after giving subsidy,” he said.
If farmers do not recoup the production cost, they will feel discouraged to produce crops, Mustafa Kamal said, adding, “We’ll take all kinds of initiatives needed to save farmers. You’ll see all the things. We can start giving agriculture insurance through poultry.”
He said once vegetable farmers used to get no fair prices of their produces and vegetables used to get rotten. “But we managed to export those by giving subsidy. Now, Bangladesh is the 4th vegetable producing country in the world and vegetable farmers are getting prices properly. Similarly, subsidy can be given on rice export.”
The minister stressed the need for increasing awareness among farmers about the use modern equipment in agriculture. “If they use modern technology, production will increase and production cost will come down as well. We’ll provide modern agricultural equipment to farmers,” he added.
Shykh Seraj said he talked to farmers of Shariatpur, Bagerhat, Cox’s Bazar, Jashore and Natore districts and tried to include their demands in his 50-point recommendation.
The recommendations include procuring rice directly from farmers, ensuring agricultural insurance to save farmers from climate change effects, excavating rivers and canals, ensuring standard crop seeds, proper marketing of agricultural goods, specific policies on pesticide import, proper marketing, modernising the agriculture sector and continuing subsidy on import of agricultural equipment. – UNB