Putting emphasis on keeping up Bangladesh's progress in the agriculture sector, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said the government has been providing all kinds of assistance for ensuring food security amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
"This is true that coronavirus is pushing us back a lot. Even then, we will have to keep up the progress in the agriculture sector so that our people don't suffer, at least from food shortage. We will have to pay attention to it," she said.
The PM was speaking at the weekly meeting of the Executive Meeting of the National Economic Council (Ecnec).
The meeting was held virtually, with the premier, also the Ecnec chairperson, in the chair. The prime minister and Planning Minister Abdul Mannan joined the meeting from the Gono Bhaban through videoconferencing, while other Ecnec members were connected from NEC Bhaban.
Describing the government's assistance to the agriculture sector, Hasina said, "We've been providing all kinds of assistance so that our food security is not affected."
She said the government has reduced the prices of fertilisers, and has been distributing quality seeds and other agricultural inputs. The government also provided some 2 crore agriculture cards to avail of agricultural inputs and created scope for farmers to open a bank account depositing Tk 10. Now more than one crore farmers have such bank accounts.
The PM said the price of DAP fertiliser was Tk 90 per kg during the tenure of the previous BNP government, but her government reduced the prices in several phases and now the farmers are getting the fertiliser for Tk 12 per kg.
"If we can keep food in our house, we may not have so serious problems on other fronts. We will be able to overcome [the coronavirus crisis]."
Hasina said leaders and activists of Awami League and its associate bodies -- Chhatra League, Jubo League, Krishak League and Swechhasebak League --stood beside the farmers by joining their paddy harvesting amid the Covid-19. "Joining the harvesting work, many leaders and activists even got infected with coronavirus and some of them also died."
She said standing beside people is their duty.
Talking about the 2030 sustainable development agenda, the premier said the government would continue pursuing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to achieve the targets which are particularly effective for Bangladesh.
"We will have to achieve SDGs as well, particularly its 17 goals effective for our country. We don't need to deal with all."
Hasina said the goals which are effective for Bangladesh have already been incorporated in the 8th Five Year Plan and the government has been working on achieving those. "We'll be able to achieve that [SDGs]," she said.