Published in The New Nation on Tuesday, 16 June 2015.
Inadequate budget allocation
Self-sufficiency in food to be hampered
The allocation in the agriculture sector in the proposed national budget for fiscal 2015-16 is not adequate to ensure future self-sufficiency in food, agro-economists said.
The government allocated Tk 10,875 crore as non-development expenditure and Tk 1,824 crore as development expenditure.
The size of the national budget has increased by 23.13 per cent compared with the outgoing budget, but allocation for agriculture has been increased by 3.43 per cent only.
In 2013-14, the government allocated Tk 12,075 crore in agriculture sector where some Tk 10,803 as no-development expenditure and Tk 1,272 as development expenditure.
The agriculture sector has occupied fifth position in sector-wise resource distribution.
Allocation for agriculture is declining in a regular basis, said Dr Quazi Shahabuddin, Former Director General of Bangladesh Institute for Development Studies (BIDS).He said, only 1.9 percent of the Annual Development Programme (ADP) has been allocated for agriculture, similar to the 2014-15 budget The finance minister did not hint of any clear indication to improve the mechanism to ensure the fair prices for the agriculture products, he claimed.
Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Executive Director Dr Mustafizur Rahman said, total allocation for agricultural sector continues to decrease which is not good for attaining a stable agro sector.
The CPD Executive demanded for setting up of a Permanent Agricultural Price Commission on an urgent basis to ensure incentive price for the producers while maintaining market stability.
Economist Mamun-ur- Rashid said that agricultural subsidy remains unchanged from last year. ‘Lower subsidies in the agriculture sector can affect the projected 6.2 per cent rate of inflation.
‘Increasing price of fuel and water will affect it as well. It will cause more food import in the coming years, also said the economist.
The government needs to procure more rice from the peasant to ensure fair prices for their production, he suggested.
Still 2.62 crore people of the country are suffering from hunger, so it is very much important to emphasize for achieving the real food sufficiency by promoting agriculture sector, said the economist.
Agriculture is considered the backbone of country’s economy. Over the years the contribution of the agriculture sector to GDP has declined due to the structural change of the economy. With the dominance of the service sector followed by the industrial sector, agriculture is now third with a contribution of about 20 percent to the GDP, observed the economist.
The importance of the sector is still very critical from the point of its role to employment generation and poverty reduction despite a relatively lower contribution to the national income Cultivable land is in fact declining for rapid growth of the industrialization and population. So, the achievement of food security will be a major challenge for the country, said the economist.
In order to maintain the growth momentum and exploit the full potential of the sector, the government needs to allocate adequate resources in the national budget for agriculture, also said the economist.
He underscored for introducing crop insurance to save the farmers from any future natural disaster.