Budgetary allocation for Rangpur division’s eight districts for fiscal 2021-22 should be adequate to expedite development of the country’s extreme north, primarily known for crop production, said businesspeople, economists and members of the civil society.
Apart from the agricultural sector, the region’s five land ports should be made fully functional with immigration services, they said when contacted by this correspondent of The Daily Star.
The five are in Hili at Dinajpur’s Hakimpur upazila, Radhikapur at Dinajpur’s Biral upazila, Banglabandha at Panchagarh, Burimari in Lalmonirhat and Sonahar in Kurigram.
The north, especially Rangpur, significantly accounts for the country’s crop production, including rice, said Dr Fahima Khanam, chairman of the economics department at Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University in Dinajpur.
Farmers are still deprived of fair prices just for a shortage of storage facilities, which moreover can currently hold only potato and no other perishable vegetable, she observed.
“The government should take up initiatives so that farmers can store vegetables for longer periods,” she said.
Supporting her, Abdul Aziz, president of the Kurigram Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also demanded more subsidy in agriculture.
Kurigram has sufficient resources except for finance and its large-scale textile mills have been kept shut while a Chilmari river port is yet to be made operational, he said.
The Sonahar land port lacks infrastructure and immigration services which could have saved time and money of businesspeople seeking travel to India, he added.
Meanwhile, Rangpur needs an economic zone and leather processing factories which would generate employment opportunities and tackle its high poverty rate, he said, demanding making Lalmonirhat airport functional.
Rangpur’s factories making hand rolled cheap cigarettes had created a lot of employment opportunities, especially for women, but high taxation was a drawback, said Mozibar Rahman, president of Rangpur Bidi Owners Samity, while seeking a reduction.
Panchagarh’s booming tea sector could make use of government incentives for medium and small-scale growers alongside an auction house for availing better prices, said Sharif Hossain, president of the Panchagarh Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Rangpur division’s rice feeds around four crore people annually, so import cost cuts are required for its automatic rice mill machineries alongside on electricity tariffs, said Mosaddek Hossain, president of Automatic Rice Mill Owners Association in Dinajpur.