1702Published on February 9, 2022
The government has decided to provide farmers with smart agriculture cards to digitalise the agricultural system in the country.
More than 1 crore will be given smart cards. To this end, a project has been taken up at a cost of Tk108 crore to provide area- and demand-based agricultural services and ensure the exchange of agricultural information required for digital analysis and management of agricultural information.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Tuesday approved the pilot project, titled "Smart agriculture card and digital agriculture". Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina virtually presided over the meeting at the NEC conference room in the capital.
At a press briefing after the meeting, Planning Minister MA Mannan said the pilot project would be implemented in nine districts of the country.
Digital profiles will be created for 1.62 crore out of 5 crore farmers in the country. Among them, 1.09 will be given smart agriculture cards under the project, he said.
"This will increase crop production planning and marketing decision-making capacity by 30%. If the pilot project is successful, its activities will be expanded across the country," he said.
"A total of 11 projects and programmes, involving Tk37507.22 crore, were approved at the meeting. Of these, seven are completely new projects. The meeting also approved amendments to four ongoing projects," he added.
Of the amount, Tk36,023.91 crore will be spent from the government's exchequer and Tk33.33 crore from the implementing agencies' funds, while Tk1,449.98 crore will be collected from foreign sources as project assistance.
The planning minister added that the Ecnec also approved a Tk1,503.32 crore project, "Construction of Primary Infrastructure for Sheikh Hasina Institute of Frontier Technology", to set up the country's first frontier technology-based specialised institute.
MA Mannan said the meeting also revised the fourth phase of the massive sector-wise programme for health, population and nutrition sectors.
After revision, he said, the total project cost amounts to around Tk1,45,935 crore, involving a cost hike of more than Tk30,448 crore. The scheme, which was supposed to end by this July, also saw a one-year extension, meaning that it will be implemented by June 2023.
Of the additional allocation, 34% will be spent on revenue, salaries and allowances, and only 13% on development.
Elaborating, the planning minister said it is not a single project but rather a group among many.
In response to a question, Mosammat Nasima Begum, member of the Socio-Economic Infrastructure Division of the Planning Commission, said the health sector saw an expense of only around Tk28,326 crore, which was over 63% of the total development allocation. The deadline now is June 2023. The programme has been revised so that it does not face any interruption.
The other projects approved at the meeting are Infrastructure Development of Mongla Commander Flotilla West (Comflot West), Modernisation of Chattogram, Cumilla and Mymensingh (Trishal) Military Farms, Upgradation of Ashuganj River Port-Sarail-Dharkhar-Akhaura Land Port Highway to four lanes National Highway (1st revised), Integrated Sanitation and Hygiene in 10 Priority Cities of Bangladesh (Integrated Solid and Human Waste Management), Upgrading of Dhaka Water Supply Network (1st revised), Waste Removal and Management in Dhaka South City Corporation Affiliated Area, collection of modern vehicles used for road repairs and reduction of traffic congestion through installation of mechanised, Construction of Hostel or Dormitory for Doctors, Officers, Senior Staff Nurses and Trainees working at Azimpur Maternal and Child Health Training Institute, Dhaka, Important Rural Infrastructure Development of Gopalganj District (2nd revised).