►Tk 30bn project on the table►High-quality seeds, modern machinery to be procured
►Focus on food security, commercial sustainability
The government is set to launch a project for modernising the traditional agriculture sector to safeguard the vital ecosystems and use it as a tool to face a potential global recession amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The initiative comes as part of the government’s efforts to improve the agriculture sector as a survival tool from a potential global economic meltdown as the pandemic is affecting the global economy and food security.
The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) has proposed a Tk 30.20 billion project titled ‘Agriculture mechanisation through coordinated management’ in this regard, Planning Commission sources said.The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec), headed by the Prime Minister, is expected to give nod to the project at its next meeting on Tuesday, sources added.
DAE will implement the project in all the upazillas by June 2025, once the scheme gets approval from the government’s highest economic policymaking body.
Agriculture modernisation initiatives have been intensified from this fiscal year after the vibrant agriculture sector protected the country from a food crisis during lockdown measures for more than two months.
In the budget for 2020-21 fiscal, the government has put immense importance to agriculture sector besides health sector, eying for quick recovery from the economic shocks created by the global pandemic.
Modern harvesting machinery was introduced on a limited scale with state support during the last harvesting period at a time when there was an acute shortage of agricultural labours due to lockdown measures.
“There is no alternative to agricultural mechanisation to ensure food security in the country,” Dr Shamsul Alam, Member of General Economics Division (GED), the top public think tank said.
“Agriculture was the only place of hope at that time. So, it is very urgent to take the initiative of modernizing farm practices,” he pointed out.
Apart from gaining more crisis resilience, another important objective of the scheme is to make the local agriculture sector more profitable and commercially sustainable.
With the initiative, it will be possible to save misuse agro produce by 10 to 15 per cent, while time and money can be saved by 50 per cent and 20 per cent respectively, according to the agriculture ministry.
It has been aligned with 7th five-year plan that put special emphasis on agricultural mechanization for better productivity as well as raising the income of farmers.
51,300 units of different types of agro machinery like combined harvester, rice transplanter, power thresher, drier, power weeder etc will be procured and distributed under the project.
Besides, training on equipment handling, repairing and improved seed production will be rendered to farmers and rural mechanics. High-quality seeds will be distributed under the scheme.
Earlier, two phases of an agriculture modernization scheme were implemented from 2012 to June 2019 with spending a total of Tk 4.89 billion.