DHAKA: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday suggested students to pursue practical education on agriculture, saying that there is nothing of shame to work on land or plant seedlings.
“We’re providing education to our children. But after pursuing education, they don’t want to work on land. I think they should be given (practical) education on agriculture as it provides food and raw materials to us,” she said.
The prime minister said the students should receive practical education on agriculture as there is nothing of shame to work on land or plant seedlings.
“Rather they will feel pride when fruits are yielded at their own garden and later they will eat those after plucking by their own hands,” she added.
The prime minister said this while distributing Bangabandhu Jatiya Krishi Puroshkar 1423,(Bangabandhu National Agriculture Award -1423), the highest state recognition in the agriculture sector, in Osmani Memorial Auditorium here yesterday morning.
Sheikh Hasina also directed the agriculture ministry to take measures for incorporating practical education on agriculture in curriculum.
“I would like to tell the agriculture minister to make such a special arrangement so that our students become sincere in agriculture work,” she said.
The Ministry of Agriculture arranged the function with Agriculture Minister and Chairman of Bangabandhu Krishi Puroshkar Trust Begum Matia Chowdhury in the chair.
Fisheries and Livestock Minister Narayan Chandra Chanda was present at the function as the special guest.
Senior Secretary of the Agriculture Ministry Mohammad Moinuddin Abdullah delivered the welcome address and also conducted the award-giving ceremony.
On behalf of the winners, Begum Farhana Yasmin of Jessore addressed the occasion.
In 1973, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman introduced the award in order to take forward the agri-based economy of the newly independent country.
This year, 32 individuals and organisations were honoured with Bangabandhu Jatiya Krishi Puroshkar for their outstanding contribution to different fields in agriculture.
The premier handed over five gold medals, nine silver medals and 18 bronze medals to the award winners.
Terming agriculture as the lifeline of the people, the prime minister said her government wants that the children pursue agriculture education from their childhood.
“We will definitely develop our industrial sector, but not excluding agriculture,” she said.
The premier said currently many people are raising gardens on the rooftops of their buildings. “Everybody should be encouraged in this work,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said every inch of land will have to be utilized properly for boosting the country’s agri-production.
“The lands of those who are staying in the towns often remain unused. But there will be no dearth of food in Bangladesh, rather we would be able to provide food assistance to the people of other countries if these lands are cultivated under a cooperative system,” she said.
The prime minister said the farmers of the country have already started cultivation using modern method as the government has mechanised the sector.
“We could now plant seedlings and harvest crops through machines instead of hands,” she said.
Urging the agriculture scientists to strengthen their research to boost up production, the prime minister said they should need more training to increase food production.
Expressing concern over depletion of cropland for urbanization, the prime minister said the government has already directed not to build mills and factories on two-crop or three-crop land.
Criticising the post-1975 governments as well as the BNP-Jamaat government for not giving a proper attention to the agriculture sector, Sheikh Hasina said those governments didn’t want to make the country self-reliant in food rather they wanted to turn Bangladesh into a country of beggars.
But when the Awami League government came to power, she said, it tried to boost food production and ensure food security and nutrition.
She said there is a difference of thinking between Awami League and BNP as the Awami League always tried to turn Bangladesh into a self-dignified country. “We want that we will move keeping our head high, not begging hands to others,” she said.
In this connection, the prime minister mentioned that when her party announced in parliament in 1998 that Bangladesh became self-reliant in food, at that time the opposition BNP said that it’s not good for Bangladesh as the country will not get foreign food assistance for it.
The prime minister said: “My question was that whether we will move in the entire life in such a way. But we don’t want it, we want we would produce food by ourselves … we will move in the world with dignity.”
“On the other hand, the BNP government opted to import food from abroad by showing hungry people and doing this they wanted to raise their trade and business and make their pocket heavy … that was their mentality,” she said.
Putting emphasis on maintaining continuity of the government, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has already earned due dignity as the country’s development is being visible, from food security to the living standard of the people are being improved, their per capita income being increased and the country is being freed from poverty.
The prime minister reiterated her determination to build Bangladesh as a hunger and poverty-free Sonar Bangla as dreamt by Bangabandhu and said that the agriculture will act as the main force in this regard.
Sheikh Hasina called upon the entrepreneurs to invest in setting up agro processing industries as the country has a huge potential in the field.
“Our aim is to establish agro-based industries and we’re working to achieve the target,” she said.
The premier laid stress on expansion of surface irrigation by reducing underground water. “Initiatives will have to be taken for the technologies consistent with the climate change,” she said.
Stating that the Awami League government always gives highest importance to the agriculture, the prime minister said Bangladesh attained food autarky within four years after formation of the government in 1996.
She said the Awami League handed over power in 2001 by making Bangladesh self-reliant in food. But after coming to power, she said, the BNP turned Bangladesh into a food deficit country.
Sheikh Hasina said the foodgrains production in 2005-06 fiscal year was 2.80 crore MTs, while it increased to 3.87 MTs in 2016-17 fiscal. “We ranked 4th in the world in rice production including attaining food autarky again,” she said.
The prime minister said Tk 60,865 crore subsidy was given to all sectors in the last nine years and Tk 785.98 crore were spent for giving agriculture incentive and rehabilitation.
Sheikh Hasina said fertilisers have been brought to purchasing capacity of the farmers by reducing their price for four times. Through the BADC, she said, 10.50 lakh MT quality seeds of different crops were distributed in the last nine years.
She said over two crore agriculture cards were distributed to reach government assistance to the farmers, an arrangement for opening bank account at only Tk 10 by the farmers was made.
The prime minister congratulated the winners of Bangabandhu Jatiya Krishi Puroshkar 1423 and hoped it will encourage them in contributing more to the country’s agriculture development.