Agriculture Minister Md Abdur Razzaque has said the government is determined to ensure safe and nutritious food for the country.
“The country’s agricultural sector witnessed huge growth over last several years. There was a time when many Bangladeshis went hungry. They would miss two or even three meals in a day. Now they eat full meals. So now for the government, the main commitment must shift to ensure safe and nutritious food for the people,” Dr Razzaque said at a reception in the city for the National Agriculture Awards gold medalists on Thursday.
The minister noted that the ruling party had placed special emphasis on the country’s agriculture sector in its election manifestos. Commercialisation of agriculture is the main challenge for the government.
“The government will modernise, mechanise and commercialise the agriculture sector soon. This year, farmers did not get fair prices for paddy following huge production cost. If we can fulfill it [our promises] then farmers will get fair prices,” the minister also said.
Abdur Razzaque also said that his ministry won’t depend on the food ministry to purchase paddy from farmers.
“We will ensure that farmers get fair prices for their monsoon paddy. We will make list of real farmers. We will continue to give farmers cash incentive in upcoming monsoon too.”
The minister said the government will set up a modern, internationally-accredited laboratory in Purbachal to facilitate export of agricultural goods.
He also said the country is going to export 100,000 tonnes of paddy soon.
“Farmers and exporters would be sent to Vietnam to observe coffee and cashew nut cultivation, so that we can cultivate it in our Hill Tracts too.”
He further said the agriculture sector has witnessed 34 percent growth this year, promising more in future. “We will reform the Agriculture Marketing Department soon,” he added, to much agreement from his audience.
A total of 49 individuals and institutions including farmers, researchers and others playing important roles for the advancement of agriculture received gold medals for their contributions to the sector over a 16-year period -- 1403 to 1419 of the Bangla calendar (corresponding to 1996-2012 in the Gregorian calendar).
Secretary to the agriculture ministry Md Nasiruzzaman, agriculturists and high officials from different departments were present at the programme.