A consumer rights network yesterday called upon the government to ensure that the country's marginal farmers and pure tenants (those who do not own the land they use) are getting loan support under the stimulus package announced for the agriculture sector to fight the Covid-19 fallout.
On April 12, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the stimulus package of Tk 5,000 crore for small and medium farmers.
As per the government's existing farm loan policy, there is almost no chance for the pure tenants to get loans under the stimulus package, Right to Food Bangladesh (RtFB), a network of different local, national and international NGOs, said in a statement.
Under the farm loan policy, those farmers who do not own arable land will get loan if they can submit an "agreement paper" of their leased land, RtFB said. However, the reality is the country's marginal farmers do not take lease of arable land with making written agreement.
Besides, non-farmer owners of arable land also do not lease out land under written agreement, it added.
The pure tenants are not to blame for this because if owners lease out their arable land under written agreement they have to pay a fee to the government, which the land owners never want, it further said.
RtFB demanded to ensure loan support for marginal farmers and pure tenants under the stimulus package after necessary scrutiny and considering their capacity instead of "written agreement".
Referring to a Bangladesh Bank circular, it said intermediaries in the farm sector will get a comparatively high loan opportunity under the stimulus package, which the rights group termed "unequal and unfair".
Considering the current lockdown situation, it urged the government to ensure mobility of agro-based labourers from different parts of the country during the Boro season with ensuring their health safety and availability of transportation.
It also demanded that a higher amount of paddy is being procured directly from the farmers under government initiative. It further demanded transparency and accountability in all government and non-government support schemes for the farmers including the stimulus package.
The 56-member National Committee of RtFb is chaired by eminent economist Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad.