The govt would provide seeds, fertiliser and cash to farmers those are victims for recent cyclonic strom Fani says Dr Abdur Razzaque
Zahid Hossain Biplob: Bangladesh has made a significant progress in producing rice by developing more rice varieties and appropriate technologies under the effective measures of the incumbent government led by the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The country produced 35 million metric tons of rice in last year against the demand of 29.10 million metric tons this year. Rice production was 32.65 million metric tons in 2017. The production increased by 7.20 percent in the last year. The surplus production is 5.90 million metric tons recorded this year.
Meanwhile, rice production was 34.57 million metric tons in 2016, followed by 34.50 million metric tons in 2015, 34.50 million metric tons in 2014, 34.39 million metric tons in 2013, 33.82 million metric tons in 2012, 33.70 million metric tons in 2011, 31.70 million metric tons in 2010 and 31 million metric tons in 2009, according to the data of agriculture ministry.
Talking to Daily Industry, Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque underscored the need for increasing safe food production by taking the newly developed rice varieties and associated technologies to the doorsteps of the farmers under the imitative of the present government.
“We would to take the new rice varieties and technologies to the farmers’ doorsteps along with increased subsidies for ensuring safe food production,” the minister said.
The minister asked the BRRI scientists to develop more rice varieties and appropriate technologies that can withstand adverse environmental effects such as salinity, drought, cold, flood and water resurge.
Talking on the recent victim farmers resulting from the cyclone Fani, he assured the agriculture ministry would provide seeds, fertiliser and cash to the farmers under a rehabilitation programme to be implemented during the 2019-2020 period after making a list of the victims.
Dr Razzaque said the ministry has directed the local administrations to drain out water from croplands and vegetable fields as post-cyclonic short-term steps and help the farmers to harvest Boro paddy.
Terming the government as an agriculture-friendly one, Dr Razzaque said the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) and Agriculture Ministry are jointly working to stand beside farmers.
Consider the bumper production of rice, the government is considering exporting rice to benefit farmers, the minister hinted.
“We are discussing this with the food and commerce ministries. A decision will be taken within 15-20 days after high-level discussions”, he informed.
Razzaque added that only surplus rice would be exported. Rice exports will not affect the market. Last year, we produced 1.3 million tones more than our target. Overall, we have about 2-2.5 million tones of surplus rice each year”, said the minister.
A recent report of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed Bangladesh’s total rice area and production levels in 2019-20 (May-April) are projected to increase slightly to 11.8 million hectares and 35.3 million metric tons, respectively, assuming good weather and increased yield in 2019-20 market year. The US agency’s market year (MY) runs from May to April.
So the projected output is 34.9 million MT higher than 2018-19’s and 32.6 million MT of the previous market year (2017-18), thereby largely making Bangladesh self-sufficient in its staple production.
USDA report says, winter season rice (Boro) area is forecast to increase as farmers are expected to switch to rice from wheat and minor vegetables. It says that farmers will continue cultivating Boro rice considering it to be a comparatively lower risk crop.
According to the Ministry of Food, as of March 19, 2019, public rice stocks are 1.37 MMT, which is approximately 33 percent higher than last year.
Besides, USDA also notes that the government of Bangladesh has a long term plan to expand rice cultivation in Aus rice season (March-August), as it is cultivated during the rainy season when no supplementary irrigation is required.
With the aim of attracting farmers to Aus rice cultivation, the government has announced seed and input support to farmers producing rice.
The government has formed a national taskforce and initiated an emergency contingency plan to work with farmers to raise awareness and train them on integrated pest management techniques, said a senior official of Agriculture minister.
The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) under Agriculture Ministry is intensively working with farmers to identify and take measures that are followed internationally to eradicate this invasive pest, he added.