Free fertilizers, seeds for next crop of haor areas: PM

SHALLA, Sunamganj- Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said the government would distribute fertilizers, seeds and other agriculture inputs free of cost for production of next crop in haor areas.

"We would distribute fertilizers, seeds and other agri inputs -- whatever necessary -- free of cost for (production of) the next crop in haor areas," she told a rally in Shalla upazila headquarters this morning.

The rally was arranged on Shahid Ali Model High School premises on the occasion of distribution of relief materials among the flood-affected people of the upazila.

Sheikh Hasina said the interest of the bank loans has been brought down to half to minimise the financial losses of flood-affected people of the haor areas, while the issue of realizing loan would be kept suspended.

"State-owned banks have already decided to reduce the interest rate by half," she said.

The premier urged the NGOs not to give pressure on farmers to pay installments of their loans saying the government through NGO bureau would advice the NGOs not to give pressure on farmers during their difficulties.

"If necessary subsidy on electricity for agriculture would continue," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the government will appoint dealers at the union level in the haor areas to operate open market sale (OMS) for food grains to avoid sufferings of the people of the region.

In this connection, the prime minister asked the food minister to take immediate steps.

Assuring the people of the flood-affected areas of taking all necessary measures, she said no one will face the lack of food and shelter as the government will expand VGF activities to the haor areas apart from OMS programme.

"We've made arrangement to reach VGF rice to union level at the government cost," she said.

The premier also ordered the ministers concerned to take measures to increase navigability of the canals and rivers in the haors through dredging. "Haors must be kept alive as those are involved in the life and livelihood of the people of the region," she said.

Sheikh Hasina put emphasis on increasing production of fishes and livestock in haor areas alongside Boro paddy and advised the haor people not to be dependent on single crop (Boro paddy), rather producing pulses, mustard and vegetables.

Urging the people not to be afraid of natural disaster, the prime minister said her government is always ready to tackle any natural calamity. In this connection, she referred to the 1998 deluge which her government tackled efficiently.

Pointing out the potentials of the haor areas, the prime minister said the government has undertaken plans to improve the living condition of the haor people.

"Steps are being taken for construction of the sustainable homes in haor areas and supply electricity through solar system," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said necessary plan was also taken for residential schools in haor and hill areas so that children can go to school every day without any hurdle.

Flood-affected school children would be provided with necessary help, she said, adding that the government would release fish fries in haor areas to improve commercial fishing in coming days.

Sheikh Hasina urged the people to keep their trust in Awami League saying the party founded by the Father of the Nation always devoted to the cause of the people. "Our party won't tolerate any injustice, corruption and misuse as long as it's in power," she said.

The premier said her government has a plan to diversify the livelihood of the haor people instead of making them dependent on cultivation of paddy alone.

"We would ensure shelter and food for every family," she said.

She said till April 25 last, 3,525 MT of food grains and Tk 20 crore have been allocated for the flood-hit haor people. "Besides every family of the area would get Taka 500 each month and for this purpose, Tk 49.50 crore have been allocated," she said.

Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury, Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, Food Minister Advocate Quamrul Islam, Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud, State Minister for Finance and Planning MA Mannan, and local parliament member Joya Sengupta spoke at the rally.

State Minister for Water Resources Nazrul Islam, Awami League Joint Secretary Mahbub-ul Alam Hanif and Organizing Secretary Ahmed Hossain among others, were present on the occasion.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)