• Saturday, August 30, 2014

Muhith rules out new fund for agriculture

Shykh Seraj hands 56 proposals on agriculture to minister

Star Business Report

The government will not allocate any new fund for agriculture as it is not utilised properly, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said yesterday.
The government has no plan to increase the agricultural research allocation either, as the Tk 500 crore fund has remained unutilised for years, he said.
“We will rather strengthen the local government for proper utilisation of budgetary allocations in rural areas,” Muhith said at a discussion on 'Krishi Budget Krishoker Budget 2014-15' at his secretariat office in Dhaka.
Shykh Seraj, director and chief of news of Channel i, handed over a set of 56 recommendations to Muhith on agricultural development—to be incorporated in the national budget for the next fiscal year.
“Land management in our country did not change despite several attempts. Strengthening the local government might be the answer to effective land management,” Muhith said.
“We will introduce a landholding certificate system which will reduce land-related disputes.”
Once land-related disputes are settled, sharecroppers and landowners will feel encouraged to undertake commercial farming, which will help maintain an adequate supply of food.
Landholding certificates will be delivered through a public private partnership for transparency of ownership, the minister said.
“I want to do something for the poultry sector, as it has been damaged in the last few years,” said Muhith, without mentioning any particular plan of action for the sector.
Seraj urged the government to form a separate commission for the poultry, as the sector has been severely affected in recent times; only 89,000 poultry farms are in operation at present, down from 1.28 lakh five years ago.
Economic growth will rise to 10 percent by the end of 2018, due to some positive changes, Muhith said. “We are stuck at 6 percent.”
In his discussion, Seraj urged the government to extend policy support to farmers during the peak harvesting seasons of different crops so that they get fair prices for their produce.

For example, during onion harvests, the government should discourage onion imports through letters of credit so that the farmers are benefited, he said.
“The government can take such decisions for every seasonal crop.”
Seraj also asked the government to increase the budgetary allocation for agricultural research.
As in the past, Seraj held pre-budget discussions with 22,000 farmers in five districts, where the farmers discussed their problems in the presence of ministers and other government high-ups.
Farmers said they faced problems in marketing their crops last year due to political unrest. They urged the government to ease farm bank loans so that they have access to money in times of need.   

Published: 12:00 am Tuesday, May 20, 2014

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