The government is coming up with a hefty Tk 1.5 trillion investment plan for the agriculture sector in the next five years as corona has increased the importance of the sector as a tool to support the economy during any crisis.
The money will be spent in yearly budgets through four related ministries dealing with the sector under the upcoming 8th five-year plan, Planning Commission sources said.The plan has been revealed in a government report called ‘agriculture, water resource, land and environmental and climate change.’
General Economics Division (GED) has prepared the report to help formulate the new mid-term plan of the government, outlining future challenges and way forward for the agriculture sector in the post-corona period.
“The agriculture sector came to our rescue during the Covid-19 pandemic when industry and service sectors nearly came to a halt. At that time, agriculture was our main point of hope and the yield was also good,” GED Member Dr Shamsul Alam said.
“More importance is being attached to the agriculture sector for ensuring food security, nutrition and keeping the wheels of rural economy running,” he added.
The new investment target is double the amount that had been spent through the four ministries in the last five years, Dr Shamsul Alam informed.
Seventh five-year plan expired in June this year, but the formulation of the next mid-term plan was hampered because of Covid-19.At present, GED is working for preparing the final draft of the plan and it may get approval from the highest authority by this month, planning commission sources said.
The agriculture sector is considered to be very important in terms of its contribution to GDP growth and improving the rural economy.
Some 35.2 per cent of the country’s total labour force is engaged with the sector, the report said, adding that agriculture-dependent economy is an independent economy.
Even though the country’s economy has now gone through some diversification with the rise in industry and service sectors’ contribution in recent years, agriculture still came out as a key sector during the pandemic situation. The country did not face any food scarcity during the pandemic and nearly attained food autarchy in the last few years with supportive government policies.
In the 7th five-year plan, the government set a target of achieving 3.3 per cent average growth per year by 2020. Against this target, the government finally achieved 3.5 per cent average growth.
Under the new investment plan, the government eyes to spend Tk 1,116.80 billion through water resource ministry, Tk 244.50 billion through the ministry of agriculture, Tk 65.90 billion through the ministry of fisheries and livestock and Tk 52 billion through the ministry of land by 2024-25 fiscal year.
Besides revealing the investment plan, the report also identified some potential challenges of the agriculture sector in the next five years.
The challenges include corona pandemic, impacts of climate change, dependence on groundwater for irrigation, diminishing cultivable land, scarcity of storage facility and lack of commercialization in the agriculture sector, among others. Several challenges have also been identified for local fisheries and livestock sector.