Mega project for farm modernisation

The project awaits final nod; agri-mechanisation to get top priority

A special project involving Tk 3,020 crore will be placed at the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) to modernize agriculture sector for recovering losses caused by corona pandemic.

It is expected that the meeting will approve the project in order to promote farm mechanisation as the farmers suffer from huge shortages of farm labourers during the harvesting seasons.

The government is attaching special importance to agricultural development as a tool to survive the economic downturn which is being feared in the future, an official of the planning commission said.

As part of this, special initiatives have been taken to modernize agriculture, he said adding that, for this, the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) is going to undertake a new project titled ‘mechanisation of agriculture work through integrated management’.

“It will cost Tk 3,020 crore to implement this project. The project will be implemented in all the upazilas across the country,” he added.

Through the implementation of the project, the people hope to boost the crop production by making agriculture more commercially profitable and sustainable, he said.

“The project is being presented at the ECNEC meeting next Tuesday. If approved, the Ministry of Agriculture will start the project this month and implement it by June 2025,” he mentioned.

The main activities under the project: 51,300 different technology equipment including combine harvester, rice transplanter, power thresher, dryer, power weeder, power spare, potato digger, maize sheller and so on will be procured and distributed under the development assistance program.

Besides, 9,000 rural mechanics in 300 batches will be given training for 26 days.
In addition, 1,200 officers will be trained in 40 batches.

Farmers or entrepreneurs using one lakh joint land in 1,000 batches will be trained and 12,000 people will be given five-day training in 50 batches in instrumental rice seedling production techniques.
Moreover, 1,240 metric tons of seed will be provided to integrated farms.

Apart from this, construction of 16 ATI training buildings and dormitories, creation of facilities for an agricultural machinery testing and training center, construction of a testing shed and 300 agricultural machinery equipment archives will be done under the development program.

According to the project proposal, the Seventh Five-Year Plan focuses on activities related to expansion of modern agricultural technology, production of high value crops, increasing productivity through the use of agricultural machinery and increasing the real income of farming families. This project is in line with the Seventh Five Year Plan.

A member of the General Economics Department of the Planning Commission (Senior Secretary) and the former president of the Bangladesh Agricultural Economists Association Dr Shamsul Alam said, “There is no alternative to mechanization of agriculture to ensure food security in the country.”

Moreover, agricultural activities continued even though everything in the industrial and services sectors was in disarray due to the dire situation like COVID-19, he said.

Agriculture was the only hope in this epidemic, he mentioned. That is why, the massive initiative of agricultural mechanization is good, but proper implementation of the project is important, Shamsul said.

The member-secretary of agriculture, water resources and rural institutions wing of the planning commission Zakir Hossain Akanda said agricultural mechanization is essential to increase production by reducing costs in agriculture.

“Under the proposed project, by increasing the supply and use of modern agricultural machinery, it will be possible to prevent crop wastage, save time and money in cultivation. With these considerations, it has been recommended to present the project to the ECNEC,” he informed.

However, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has recently said the agriculture sector has been given the top priority in Bangladesh’s budget as the country seeks to overcome the COVID- 19 crisis.
Tk 16,437 crore is allocated for the agriculture sector in the current fiscal year.