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27 March, 2020 12:35:27 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 27 March, 2020 02:09:53 PM

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Pioneer of agricultural self-reliance

Bangabandhu took firm decisions to ensure fair prices for farmers to enable them to live a decent life
ANISUR RAHMAN KHAN, Dhaka
Pioneer of agricultural self-reliance

Despite the availability of arable land declining by nearly 30 per cent since 1972, the country has become a global role model for increasing crop production over the past few decades. The nation is now self-reliant in the supply of granular food grains.

Besides self-sufficiency in food, Bangladesh ranks third globally in terms of vegetable production and fourth in fish production. Such achievements were made possible by the policies of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. His policies attached top priority to the agricultural sector, including through the introduction of incentives for farmers.

Bangabandhu’s daughter, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has continued his agricultural policies as well.  The country's food grain production, including that of paddy, has increased to nearly four crore tonnes. In 1972, the production level stood at just 1.1 crore tonnes.

Some 85 per cent of the country’s population and more than half of the total national income were dependent on agriculture when Bangabandhu took charge of the nation on January 10, 1972, immediately after the War of Liberation.

Bangabandhu recognised that to strengthen the country’s economy, agricultural production would have to be boosted. That is why he called for “Sabuj Biplab” (Green Revolution) with the slogan “Krishak Bachle Desh Bachbe” (The country will survive if farmers survive). He made huge contributions to the country's agricultural sector, including adopting policies to modernise a sector that was burdened with traditional practices. Sheikh Mujib also took firm decisions to ensure fair prices for farmers to enable them to live a decent life. Bangabandhu also upgraded the status of government officials who worked in the field of agriculture.

“Bangabandhu’s government did not use the slogan as just a slogan. Rather, the colossal task of rehabilitating more than 22 lakh peasant families was imposed on it after the Liberation War. The government accomplished this with utmost efficiency. This was real rehabilitation as farmers were provided with agricultural inputs like machinery, seeds, fertilisers, and pesticides at nominal prices and even free of cost in some cases,” agriculture minister Dr MA Razzaque said.

“The Bangabandhu government adopted the two-tier cooperative system under the Coordinated Rural Development Project in 1972,” he also said, adding that the country’s first-ever microcredit programme for the rural poor was introduced under the scheme.

“The cooperative-based ‘Milk Vita’ was established in 1974 to meet the demand for liquid milk in the country,” he said.

At the end of 1972, farmers were provided with 40,000 low-lift pumps, 2,900 deep tube-wells, and 3,000 shallow tube-wells at reduced rates. The Bangabandhu government also waived tax on up to 25 bighas of land, including

pending tax on all lands. The government fixed the land ownership ceiling at 100 bighas per family.

Sources explained that farmers who were overburdened with loans were relieved of 10 lakh certificate cases filed during the Pakistani rule and their pending credits, including interest dues, were waived.

The Bangabandhu government distributed one lakh bullocks, 50,000 cows, and agricultural loans worth Tk. 30 crore to farmers. It also fixed the minimum sale price of important agricultural products—including paddy, jute, tobacco, and sugarcane—to ensure fair prices. Land under irrigation increased to 36 lakh acres in 1974–75, an increase of one-third over 1968–69. Besides enhancing irrigation facilities, 17,616 tonnes of high-yielding varieties of paddy, jute, and wheat seeds were distributed to farmers in 1972.

Arrangements were made to supply fertilisers at reduced prices in comparison to the world market. These steps boosted the use of chemical fertilisers by 70 per cent, pesticides by 40 per cent, and high-yielding seeds by 25 per cent.

Bangabandhu made arrangements to introduce the Ganges–Kabodak Irrigation Project in full swing within eight months in 1973, even as his government constructed 100 warehouses by 1972 for building food stocks.

On March 25, 1975, Bangabandhu had urged the educated people at a rally to go to their villages and help the country produce more crops. In his speech, Bangabandhu said the country would not face any food crisis if they could produce double the crop on the same land.

Agriculture minister Dr Razzaque said the country achieved self-sufficiency in food production because Bangabandhu had adopted initiatives connected to improved and short-term cultivation methods, supply of quality seeds, irrigation, and other agricultural inputs. The government also exempted agricultural credit for marginal farmers, withdrew certificate cases against them, and distributed khas land among the landless.

“Scientists in the country have developed around 70 new high-yielding rice varieties and ensured a sustainable position in various areas of production, including vegetables and fish. This has been possible because Bangabandhu revitalised the agricultural research system and introduced technology-based modern agriculture in the country,” he added.


IK

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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