- Published on Sunday, 16 July 2017 13:01
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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina laid importance on giving agricultural education to students in the field to allow them know about the cultivation system and sources of foods and fruits they take round the year.
The prime minister said she has already asked the education minister for inclusion of such an educative system in the curriculum which will take the students to the agriculture fields in villages during their academic session and give them some tasks on cultivation and harvesting of crops.
"From childhood they should know about the process of agricultural production," she said adding many children particularly the urban kids don't know from where their staple food and fruits they eat round the year come from.
"In many developed countries, she said, kids find supermarkets as the source of their foods and fruits. We don't want our children to be blind in such a way, and they should be taken to the agriculture fields," she said.
The prime minister said this while distributing 'Bangabandhu Jatiya Krishi Purashkar' (Bangabandhu National Agriculture Award) for Bengali year 1421 and 1422 at a function at Osmani Memorial Hall on Sunday.
The government in every Bengali year gives Bangabandhu Jatiya Krishi Purashkar', highest state recognition for contribution to the development of the country's agriculture sector.
Five gold, nine silver and 18 bronze medals in 10 categories are given to different organizations and individuals in each year for their contribution to the agriculture development and research.
The awardees received medals, cash and certificates from the prime minister.
Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury presided over the function while Minister for Environment and Forests Anwar Hossain Monju was present as special guest. Agriculture Secretary Moinuddin Abdullah conducted the award distribution ceremony.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the scientists can overcome many difficult hurdles if they get minimum opportunities.
The prime minister said her government has undertaken plans to set up 100 economic zones across the country where export oriented and processing industries based on local agricultural produces would be given priority. The economic zones would the hub of small, medium and large scale industries, she said.
The country has huge potentials of food processing industries as they can earn foreign exchange through export as well as fulfil the growing local demand, the prime minister said.
Sheikh Hasina said agricultural lands should be protected from urbanization and unplanned industrialization.
Urging everybody to give attention to optimum utilization of the surface water and reduce dependence on groundwater, she said people should be made aware about climate change, protection of water bodies and other natural sources of water.
The prime minister said indigenous know-how and invention based on geographical location, demand of soil and climate, are important for agricultural advancement and improvement of the economic condition of the people.
The prime minister said her government has been making stride to ensure food security through increasing production. In 2005-2006, she said, total food production of the country was 2.80 crore tonnes. In 2015, the production rose to 3.88 lakh tonnes.
The government is purchasing food from abroad as production was hampered in haor areas caused by flash flood and normal flood in the other parts of the country to check any possibility of food shortage in the country, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the country now has a stock of 1.06 crore tonnes of food. Instead, the government is purchasing food from abroad to increase the stock so that people don't suffer from any crisis.
The prime minister said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman attached highest importance to agriculture sector as he (Bangabandhu) could understand that Bangladesh has to achieve food autarky on its own to ensure basic rights of the people to food.
"Bangabandhu could understand that everything is possible to do if people's excess to food is guaranteed," the prime minister said adding that Bangabandhu called for 'green revolution' making the agricultural components available for farmers, expansion of the irrigation facilities and distribution of seed, fertilizer and pesticides at fair price to farmers.
Laying importance of extensive research on agriculture the prime minister said success in this area is not possible without research. For producing and distribution of high quality seeds Bangabandhu established the National Agriculture Research Council (NARC), Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) and many other agro-based institutions.
Agronomists found them in the first-class job during the rule of Bangabandhu, Sheikh Hasina said adding that Father of the Nation had done this to encourage the children to pursue their studies in agriculture. Bangabandhu constituted the 'Bangabandhu Krishi Purashkar Fund' in 1973 to encourage the researchers in this field, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said conspirators killed Bangabandhu when the country witnessed bumper rice production and price came down to Taka 3 in 1975 which shoot up to Taka 10 due to economic crisis after independence. The killing had taken the country's advancement on the back foot as anti-liberation force usurp to power.
She said post-1975 governments even cancelled the distribution of the national agriculture award which was reinstated after 21 years when Awami League assumed office in 1996. Despite the enormous pressure of the donors, her government decided to continue subsidy in agriculture, Sheikh Hasina said.
Pointing out the apathy of the post-1975 governments to agricultural research the prime minister said the Awami League government broke the impasse after coming to power in 1996 with allocation of Taka 12 crore.
Aimed at boosting agricultural education, she said, Awami League government established three more agricultural universities in the country after coming to power in 1996. Bangladesh could survive a food crisis even after the severe flood in 1998 as farmers did their best following receding water and made the country self-sufficient in food for the first time, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said BNP and their allies didn't like the success of food autarky as it would close their door of begging to foreign countries seeking food support. So, they made Bangladesh into a food-deficit nation after coming to power in 2001. But, it was vital to be self-sufficient in food to live with dignity amidst world community, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said her government assumed power in 1996 with shortage of 40 lakh metric tonnes of food. But, Awami League left the power in 2001 with 26 lakh tonnes of surplus production. Country's food shortage was 30 lakh metric tonnes in 2009 when Awami League came to power again, the prime minister said adding 'in such a way BNP and its allies pushed back the country.'
Sheikh Hasina said her government in the first meeting of her cabinet in 2009 decided to cut the price of fertilizer and other agricultural components and reinforce the national agriculture award. The government has also enacted the Bangabandhu National Agriculture Award Trust Act, 2016 aimed at continue the award every year in future and honour the persons having contribution to development of agriculture, she said.
Photo: Yeasin Kabir Joy