Speakers on Monday urged the government to provide “digital cards for farmers” upgrading the current agriculture card to ensure that they get different services easily and in a transparent way.
“Providing digital cards soon will allow farmers access services including agriculture loan, seeds, relief and incentives easily,” Tanvir Shakil Joy, Member of Parliament of Sirajganj-1 constituency, said at a virtual dialogue titled “Coronavirus and flood relief programmes and agricultural incentives: Effectiveness of government services”.
The event was jointly organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Oxfam in Bangladesh and European Union in association with Manab Mukti Sangstha, Sirajganj and Citizen’s Platform for SDG, Bangladesh aiming to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 agenda.
Tanvir said they tried to distribute all relief and incentives for farmers in a transparent way during the flood and the Coronavirus pandemic.
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“There’s no allegation of irregularities in relief, incentive and seeds distribution in Sirajganj but our main problem is scarcity of relief materials and incentive. We did notice some irregularities across the country in the distribution process. Digital cards for farmers should be provided to bring transparency and ensure all services for them easily,” he added.
The Awami League politician said they received a lot of allegations that farmers have to face many complexes when they go to banks for incentive or agriculture loans.
“The people of the char area don’t get incentives or agriculture loans facility in 4 percent interest as they have no land. They cultivate demesne. A framework should be made by NGO and the government to address it,” he said.
Tanvir said the government provided Tk 2,500 for the poor during COVID-19 pandemic but around 50,000 garment workers returned to villages after losing jobs. They did not get the opportunity. So, the services should be made easy and they should be brought under it.
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He requested the Agriculture Ministry to distribute seeds and fertiliser in due time for the sake of the farmers.
He added they have to lay emphasis on infrastructure development within a short time after any disaster. Besides, the new poor must be employed as soon as possible for the country’s economic recovery.
Md Habibe Millat, MP from Sirajganj-2, said their area is neglected compared to other regions. “People in char areas don’t have proper access to electricity. Besides, mobile towers are very important for them. The problems should be resolved soon,” he said.
The Awami League politician said they have to face floods several times every year. “The amount of incentives should be increased for the poor in the district,” he said.
Distinguished Fellow of CPD Professor Mustafizur Rahman presided over the function while its Senior Research Associate Muntaseer Kamal read out the keynote paper and many UP members and government officials also spoke there.
Muntaseer said around 1.75 crore new poor have been created in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Around 1,272,151 farmers have been affected following the flood and the harvest of Tk 1,323 crore has been hampered in 13 districts till August this year,” he said.