The severe cyclonic storm Bulbul that hit the country's southern region on Sunday damaged standing crops worth Tk263 crore in 103 upazilas of 16 districts. A total of 50,503 farmers were affected by the natural disaster. For poor farmers, who rely totally on agriculture for their livelihood, recovery takes much longer during calamities.
Agriculture is considered to be the backbone of the national economy and the country has been able to achieve higher growth in grain production compared to her population growth. It is undeniable that the agro-sector has been able to achieve praiseworthy successes due to government support in various forms. During the post-disaster period too, the government has come forward to extend support to the affected farmers. As part of government strategy, the farmers will get seeds from local offices of Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) to cultivate mustard and other pulses. The agriculture minister announced that the government would take a rehabilitation programme after release of funds by the Ministry of Finance. The government should also provide fertiliser and cash money to the peasants. Crop insurance plays an important role in securing their livelihoods. The government can introduce a crop insurance policy for them.Farmers have always been complaining about lack of fair prices of their produce. The government should take initiatives to guarantee fair prices at producer level. This requires improved marketing service that is capable of ensuring fair returns to producers. Subsidy has become a part and parcel of ensuring increased agricultural production. This is important for keeping the cost of production affordable for farmers.
The central Bangladesh Bank has made it mandatory for banks to disburse farm loans to the growers. But, a majority of banks allegedly show their unwillingness to disburse the loans to the needy farmers. It is high time for the central bank to take punitive measures against the banks that disobey its instruction. We have already achieved self-sufficiency in food. So, setting up proper storage facilities is a must for storing paddy and alternative crops produced by the peasants. Providing support to them during times of calamities is our first and foremost duty.