MNA National Desk: Prime Minister and Leader of the House Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday elaborated various steps of her government to ensure fair price of paddy for the farmers, mentioning that the government is executing a plan to stock 28 lakh metric tons (MT) of food grains in the country.
“We’ve taken a decision to buy 1.50 lakh MT paddy from the farmers directly at Tk 1040 per maund to keep its price stable as more paddy was produced than the demand,” she said.
The prime minister said this in reply to a starred question from Jatiya Party lawmaker Rustom Ali Farazi in the House during her question answer session with Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair.
“Besides, to keep the rice price stable, the government has decided to purchase 10 lakh MT boiled rice at Tk 36 per kilo and 1.50 lakh MT Atap rice at Tk 35 per kg,” she said, adding the activities for purchasing the rice have already begun.
Sheikh Hasina said the government has raised the import duty of rice to discourage import. “We hope these initiatives will ensure fair prices of paddy for the farmers,” she said.
The premier said the present storage capacity of food grains in the country is 19 lakh MT. “We’re implementing a plan keeping in mind that 28 lakh MT food grains would be stored,” she said.
She said the government is setting up modern silos at all places of the country to preserve more food grains. Two modern silos — one in Santahar and another in Mongla — have already been constructed, she said.
“We’re also distributing plastic containers among the farmers so that they can store their food grains,” she added.
She said the Awami League government assuming office after being elected in 1996 worked for development of agriculture and changing the lot of the farmers.
“We made Bangladesh self-reliant in food by 2000. But after coming to power, the BNP-Jamaat government pulled the country backward in all fields including agriculture instead of development,” she said.
The prime minister said the country witnessed food-deficit again during the BNP-Jamaat regime.
Sheikh Hasina said the Awami League government coming to power again in 2009 worked sincerely for the uplift of agriculture.
“Thanks to implementation of our agriculture-friendly policy, food production rose to 4 crore, 13 lakh and 25 thousand MT,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina informed the House that the food production in 2009, the year when Awami League government assumed office, was 3 crore, 33 lakh and 3 thousand metric tons.
The Leader of the House said Bangladesh is now fourth in the world rice production, seventh in potato production and third in vegetables production.
Sheikh Hasina said the Awami League government is giving subsidy on fertilisers, electricity and agri inputs to the farmers regularly.
Besides, she said, fertilizers and seeds are being given for free to the small and marginalised farmers.
“In continuation of production, there was bumper production of paddy this year too,” the premier said.
Pointing out that the southern region of the country lacks rice mills, the Leader of the House asked the lawmakers of the region to look into the matter.
“There are many parliament members in southern region who are doing various businesses. They should look into the matter so that more rice mills are established there to preserve food grains,” she said.
Referring to the 1974 famine, the prime minister said there was a big conspiracy behind it and its mastermind was made a minister by military dictator Ziaur Rahman after the assassination of Bangabandhu.
“Ziaur Rahman declared himself as the president violating the constitution and the Army Act and he made the mastermind of the 1974 famine the food minister. His (minister) son is now very active in BNP,” she said.
“It’s a bad luck for Bangladesh that the mastermind who was involved in the conspiracy was made a minister by Ziaur Rahman,” she said.