213Published on April 29, 2021
Bangladesh government has taken precautionary measures since the second wave of coronavirus. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directed the concerned persons to take necessary steps so that the pandemic cannot affect the majority of people who live in agriculture. When the coronavirus first hit the country in early 2020, Sheikh Hasina also took some special steps to save agricultural sectors. In this context, she again directed Awami League men to stand by the country’s peasants. She called upon the leaders and activists to help farmers cut, carry and process the paddy during the lockdown. In her direction, millions of leaders and activists of one of the largest Asian political parties, Awami League and its associated bodies started volunteering in the fields with the farmers.
Mainstream media, for the last few days, reported that low-income farmers were concerned about cutting their paddy on time due to the crisis of labours amid the lockdown. In a bid to mitigate the labour crisis, the leaders and activists of the ruling party started cutting the paddy voluntarily in 64 districts of the country. Leaders and activists of Awami League, Jubo League, Chhatra League and Krishak League teamed up in respective localities and started working hard in fields for the whole day to help low-income farmers. As a result, farmers got to cut their paddy within a short time and free of cost.
Addressing a rally marking the founding anniversary of Awami League’s associate wing Krishak League on April 19, Awami League President Sheikh Hasina, also the country’s Prime Minister, asked the leaders and activists to volunteer with the peasants. Following the call, the central party office sent directives to all units of the Awami League across the country. Awami League central unit also conveyed the Prime Minister’s call to top leaders of the Jubo League, Swechasebak League, Chhatra League and Krishak League. The party's central committee leaders also joined the farmers to work in the fields. Grassroot leaders followed them and started volunteering in a festive mood throughout the country.
However, Bangladesh is the only country in the world where leaders and activists of the ruling political party have come out to volunteer for the poor farmers in the fields. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave directives to her leaders and activists to keep the production, distribution and marketing of agricultural products smooth so that ordinary people do not face any food crisis during coronavirus. During the first wave of corona in 2020, Awami League men also supported farmers like this way to cut and process paddy as directed by the Prime Minister.
Besides, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken several initiatives to save the farmers, labours and low-income people from the attack of the second wave of coronavirus. The government has decided to provide cash incentives to the affected farmers, day-labourers, workers, housemaids, motor workers and people from other professions. According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), out of 30,94,249 hectares of farmland, some 10,301 hectares were completely affected and another 59,326 hectares were partially damaged due to nor’wester, heatwave and hailstorm in 36 districts. The government, however, will give Tk 5,000 cash to almost one lakh farmer families affected by the disasters. Also, approximately 35 lakh affected families from other professions will get Tk 2,500 in cash as support.
On April 21, Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim told the media that the government started enlisting the farmers affected by the coronavirus and recent natural disasters. In addition to the newly affected farmers, people from other professions, who were enlisted earlier in the government database, will also get financial support. They will be handed over the cash within the shortest possible time before Eid as per the direction of the Prime Minister.
It is not the first time, during Mujib Borsho in the last FY 2019-20, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also provided financial assistance to around 35 lakh families affected by the coronavirus.
Awami League leaders and activists, like the last time, have also stood by the helpless people with medical and food services during the lockdown in the second wave of coronavirus. The ruling party has been relentlessly supporting ordinary people to save their lives and livelihood. As part of this, they are not only helping farmers cut their paddy but also providing people with medical and food supports, delivering free oxygen cylinders for corona patients and launching medical advice by specialist doctors through the helpline. The ruling party men have been helping corona patients to bring them and get admitted to different hospitals and carrying the dead bodies of corona patients without any cost. Besides, Sramik League and Mohila Awami League along with other associate wings are trying their best to help the ordinary people to fight the pandemic.
The government has taken remarkable initiatives not only to fight the disaster temporarily but also to build a safe future for farmers and labours for the long term. The national agriculture policy has been modernised to this end. The initiative to turn the production from double to triple with the mechanization of agriculture has already been in effect with 70 per cent government subsidies. The farmers are being provided with high-yielding seeds. The government has also taken measures for ensuring electricity for the farmers and made solar power available for irrigation. These initiatives bring in more production with little effort for the farmers who can easily be marketing their products using digital services ensured by the government.
Regarding this, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, while speaking at a meeting on April 19, said, "We have introduced a new system through Krishi Bank so that the sharecroppers can avail collateral-free loans. We have reduced the prices of fertiliser to Tk 12, which was Tk 90 during the BNP regime. We are producing high-yielding seeds through research and supplying those seeds to the farmers. Even we are setting the price properly and helping the farmers regularly so that they can get fair prices of their products.”