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Farmers demand a “National Price Commission” for fair price of crops

Dhaka, 11 June 2014: Today in a human chain in front of the national press club in Dhaka 15 national and district level farmers’ organizations led by EquityBD urge for allocating at least 20% of the total budget for agriculture. They also demand for an “Independent Agriculture Price Commission” for ensuring just price of the crops produced by the small and marginalized farmers.

The speakers in the human chain said, the proposed budget of 12,390 Cr Taka for agriculture in the FY 2014-15 is quite inadequate according to the demand and this approach will in fact facilitate and patronize the multinational companies instead of the poor and marginalized farmers of the country. Thus poor and marginal farmers will not be able to compete with the companies in crop production and its price. They will end up being poorer and landless as day laborer.

They also said the following the World Bank and IMF advice, instead of increasing according future demand, our government is decreasing unexpectedly the budgetary allocation in every year for agriculture and neglecting the country’s most important sector. And this is how the government has failed to fulfill their promise of making the country self-sufficient in food by 2012. If this situation continues it will be more and more difficult to achieve the food demand for the increased population by 2021 (according to FAO it will be 180 million people and the food production target will be 47 million ton). Finally it will create more poverty in this country.

Monir Ahmed, president of Central Krishok Moitree Federation, said the proposed budget for agriculture is only 4.95% of the total budget and by percentage it is less than that of last year. On the other hand our neighboring country India has increased their agricultural allocation by 20% over last year and it is 7% of their total budget. Our government should follow this example of India instead of bowing down to IMF and World Bank. Only then our poor and marginalized farmers’ will be benefitted.

Agricultural budgetMainuddin Hawladar of Bangladesh Krishok Federation said, our finance minister said that the current policies would be carried on at any cost to strengthen the agriculture sector but unfortunately the allocation for agriculture subsidy is not increased over the last year’s 9,000 Cr Taka. But if we consider the 8% inflation, an additional allocation of 700 Cr Taka will be required to adjust the increased price of agriculture inputs especially for fertilizer only. He also said, the increased price of fuel will intensify the crisis in the agricultural production and we will be bound to import more food in future as the cost will cut the production. The government actually cheated us by not increasing the agriculture subsidy and pushed us to the dependency on the profit hungry multinational companies.

Golam Sarwar of Krishi Farm Sromik Federation said, the government is claiming that Bangladesh has achieved the self-sufficiency in food but in the last five years we have imported minimum 18.66 lac Ton and Maximum 51.50 lac Ton. Even in last year 23.00 lac ton food is imported. Our farmers are being abandoned as the public institution like BADC is weakened gradually so that the multinational seed companies can spread their monopoly business over the farmers. This is a big reason behind the shortage of gross food production. We are demanding hereby for allocating proper budget to strengthen BADC and our own research on the developed agricultural technology especially high yielding seeds.

Syed Aminul Hoque from EquityBD said that the country should have anti-dumping measures to protect the local farmers so that the highly subsidized agro-products don’t distort the local market of agricultural products. It ensures the local farmers to get the justified price for their crop. But due to the compromising attitude of the government of Bangladesh and misguided agriculture policy, the multinational agro-companies are making money and in exchange the local farmers are being abandoned. This situation need to overcome and demand for imposing anti-dumping measures to imported agro-products in proposed budget.

Aminur Rasul Babul Said, there is no compensation mechanism when a local farmer become looser by using the seeds of foreign companies. Even the mechanism for protecting local farmers in different countries is also totally absent here.

Fazlur Rahamn from Barguna Krishak Somiti said, Cost of everything in agriculture is increasing including raw materials, fertilizer and water except the price of the crops and the hard effort of the farmers behind it. Farmers never got the cost he invested in return.

Mostafa Kamal kanda of EquityBD has moderate the human chain and said, agricultural research is very important for the development of agriculture and increasing the food production. But unfortunately we have almost no allocation for agro-research. He urged for enough allocation for local research.

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