World could be headed for a dire food crisis: PM
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the countrymen to make all-out efforts to ensure that Bangladesh never faces a situation like famine and food shortage due to the prolonged Russia-Ukraine war and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. He said, “We have land and people. So we have to take initiatives from now, so that Bangladesh never falls into famine or food crisis. We will increase our food production.’
The Prime Minister said this while addressing the chief guest at the ‘Bangabandhu National Agricultural Awards 1425 and 1426’ ceremony on Wednesday morning. He joined the function organized by the Ministry of Agriculture through video conference from Ganabhaban to Osmani Smriti Auditorium in the capital.
Sheikh Hasina reiterated her call to bring every inch of land under cultivation in the country and increase production by bringing up the topic of Russia-Ukraine war and sanctions centered on the Corona situation. Citing the rise in prices of every commodity in the global market and the abnormal rise in transport costs, he emphasized on reducing import dependence. During his recent visit to the United Kingdom and the United States, while attending the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II and the United Nations General Assembly session, he also mentioned everyone’s concern that the world may go towards a severe food crisis next year in discussions with the heads of states and governments and organizations of the developed world.
Mentioning the immense suffering of common people all over the world due to war, the prime minister said in his speech at the United Nations that he called for an end to the war as well as measures to ensure a better life for children including food, medical treatment, and education. will be closed. Because some countries benefit if they can continue the war due to arms sales.
Highlighting the reality of Bangladesh’s import of diesel, LNG, fertilizer, edible oil, wheat from different countries of the world, Sheikh Hasina said, ‘In that case, I would request that we should increase our own product production, besides we have already taken some initiatives at the international level and under the leadership of the United Nations. We can buy now. For example arrangements have been made so that we can import wheat and fertilizers from Canada. We can now import all products from Russia or Ukraine and Belarus. I can do this because I am in the champion group of the Secretary General of the United Nations.The Prime Minister said, “As the price of goods has increased, the cost of transportation has also increased. But we have continued to subsidize the farmers. Because we have to meet the food and nutritional needs of the people of my country. We are working with that in mind. We must always keep in mind that we will never be import dependent. We will stand on our own feet.
Mentioning that agriculture can play an important role in increasing export products, the Prime Minister emphasized on taking measures and increasing research in that direction. In this regard, he referred to the discovery of the jute genome by local scientists and mentioned that now the private sector is also coming forward to increase exports by diversifying jute products. He said, “Even though we have the capacity to produce onions, we were dependent on others because we could not store them.” But now we have had enough success in producing it and got the third place. We are giving special attention to the preservation of these produced onions and we are also encouraging the private sector. It is not enough to produce only, we have to take measures to preserve them.
Prime Minister asked the concerned parties to look into how to increase the production of edible oil as we are dependent on imports. He also cites the local production of Chinese groundnut oil in the past, which has now almost stopped. He said, ‘We have got better quality mustard seeds through research. In addition, other oils that are used internationally by many people such as sunflower, soyabean should be taken to produce domestically.
Sheikh Hasina said, “We have to reduce our dependency and take measures to stand on our own feet and I believe we can do it.”
Highlighting the government’s initiative to establish 100 special economic zones (industrial zones) across the country, the Prime Minister said, ‘I have a goal there, to increase the production of our agricultural products and process them. We can build agro-processing industries in those regions. As a result, as they will be used in the country, they can be exported abroad.
The Prime Minister said, ‘Agricultural products are perishable. It does not last long after being picked from the tree. Aiming at that, we have to preserve agricultural products. Agricultural products should be stored according to the temperature at which they will last. So that it is possible to store the produce as well as market it. Then we can export as well as use ourselves. Special economic zones of the country have opportunities for food processing as well as product storage. I will fund whatever it takes to build it. I have set aside the required funds for this purpose. As a result, it can be done with a little initiative.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also reminded everyone to get vaccinated against coronavirus.
Minister of Agriculture spoke at the event. Muhammad Abdur Razzaq, Fisheries and Livestock Minister Sh. Rezaul Karim and President of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture Ministry and former Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury. Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture gave a welcome speech. Syedul Islam, Sharmin Akhter among the awardees expressed his feelings on behalf of the winners. A documentary on the achievements of the Ministry of Agriculture and its activities was screened on the occasion.
On behalf of the Prime Minister, the Agriculture Minister distributed the Bangabandhu National Agriculture Awards 1425 and 1426 among 44 individuals and institutions for their contribution in agricultural research and extension, cooperatives, stimulation, technological innovation, commercial farming, forestry, cattle rearing and fish farming. Three gold, twenty-five bronze and sixteen silver medals were distributed among selected individuals and institutions.