Govt’s challenge now to provide safe, nutritious food: Razzaque

Agriculture Minister Md Abdur Razzaque on Thursday said the government is determined to ensure safe and nutritious food for the country.

“The country’s agricultural sector witnessed huge growth over last several years. There was a time when many Bangladeshis went hungry. They would miss two or even three meals in a day. Now they eat full meals. So now for government the main commitment must shift to ensure safe and nutritious food for the people,” Dr Razzaque said, at a reception in the city for the National Agriculture Awards gold medalists.

The minister noted that the ruling party had placed special emphasis on the country’s agriculture sector in its election manifestos. Commercialization of agriculture is the main challenge for the government.

“The government will modernize, mechanize and commercialize the agriculture sector soon. This year, farmers did not get fair prices in paddy following huge production cost. If we can fulfill it (promises) then famers will get fair prices,” the minister also said.

Abdur Razzaque also said that his ministry won’t depend on Food Ministry to purchase paddy from farmers. “We will ensure whether farmers get fair prices for their monsoon paddy prices or not. So we will make list of real farmers. We will continue to give farmers cash incentive in upcoming monsoon too.”

Abdur Razzaque said that the government will set up a modern internationally accredited laboratory in Purbachal to facilitate export of agriculture goods.  He also said the country is going to export 100,000 tonnes of paddy soon.

“Farmers and exporters would be sent to Vietnam to observe coffee and cashew nut cultivation so that we can cultivate it in our Hill Tracts too.

He further said the agriculture sector has witnessed 34 percent growth this year, promising more in future. “We will reform Agriculture Marketing Department soon,” he added, to much agreement from his audience.

A total of 49 individuals and institutions including farmers, researchers and others playing important roles for the advancement of agriculture received the gold medals for their contributions to the sector over a 16-year period,1403 to 1419 in the Bangla calendar (corresponding to 1996-2012 in the Gregorian).

Agriculture Ministry’s secretary Md. Nasiruzzaman, agriculturists and high officials from different departments were present at the program.