Today the National Farmers’ Hearing started at the Diploma Engineers Institute, Kakrail, Dhaka on 10:30 AM Bangladesh time.
On behalf of organising committee, Nurul Alam Masud moderates the Inaugural part of the Hearing. He gives an overview on the background and the Hearing.
At first the Grow theme song resonated through the hall at the National Farmers Hearing:
Listed to the Song here:
Monisha Biswas, Oxfam’s Policy and Advocacy Manager, welcomes the panel and the audience and expresses GROW’s solidarity with the National Farmers Hearing.
Mr. Gouranga Nandy, Focal Point of Coastal Campaign Group said that, Influential people are cultivating saline water shrimp in the cultivable lands and destroying agricultural ecology of the coastal zone. Climate Change aggregated the problems only.
Mr. Gouranga Nandy focuses on Access to Common Resources as the theme of coastal group.
Mr. Khondokar Azizul Huq Moni, Lead of Beel group says that the whole Bangladesh is covered by a number of beels. Recently Beel group started a research on the common problem of Beels considering their campaign theme: Protect Beels.
Sultanul Azim Swadhin says that Plain Land Campaign group consists 48 organisations and the theme of the group is Fair Price of Agricultural Products. The group is now focusing on market access of the farmers.
Ambia Begum, a local farmer, takes the stage, and talks about the injustice and hardship she has faced as a women farmer.
Ambia begum goes back to stage, to add to her concerns.
Ranjan Kumar Biswas, Sikandar Para: “A warm gust of wind came and destroyed my crops. I’ve been unable to pay my debts in time. I urge the government to reduce price of diesel and electricity. If the farmer survives, the country survives, if the farmer doesn’t survive the country cannot survive”
Zaker Ali Shardar, Nator: I am concerned about garlic imports from Italy, which is damaging the local garlic market.
Maklum Hossain Bhutto, Sherpur: – (Tomato farmer) Flood earlier this year has damaged his crops and they have not received proper help from the government post disaster, says Maklum.
Hiron Chandra Dash, Shunamganj (rice farmer): Expresses that he has lost his will to continue his profession as a farmer, as he has incurred massive losses without compensation.
Dr. Niyaz Pasha, Senior Technology Officer, SAARC Krishi Center: “There is a Soil to Dinning Table deficit, which the government needs to address.” Urge the farmers to make use of the “water logging” to harvest fisheries.
Dr. Hannana Begum, executive committee member of Bangladesh Aurthonity Samity, talks about women farmer’s rights, Bhejal Fertilizers and lack of storage facilities for crops.
Khondokar Ibrahim Khaled, Chairman of Bangladesh Krishi Bank, says that the current government has tried to help the farmers, but agrees that there remains a deficit. He adds that the money that the farmers get now is less than before, because there is higher production and lesser demand. He urge the farmers to organize, and tells that way they will be strengthened and get what they deserve. In conclusion he says Krishi Bank is willing to extend their hands to the help farmers gain more loans in the future. He requests to contact him if they face any problem in Krishi Bank.
Dr. Ibrahim Khaled says, campaign can help the people to organise, awareness and publicise their issues, but campaign cannot get final result, until and unless the farmers are not united for their rights.
Dr. Sadeka Halim, Commissioner of Bangladesh Information Commission says there are some progresses we are watching in this Grand Alliance regime, but the situation is almost unchanged.
Sadeka Halim says, we should think about the marginal farmers. 114 million out of 154 million people are living in rural areas and 44% of them are landless farmer.
Sadika Halim says that women farmers are mostly deprived and they have no access to land properties; Since 1971 the farmers lost their land but they raise rice production 3 times more than the time of independence. She says, in urban and rural areas Real Estate business, factories and shrimp farming are grabbing our cultivable land and it is shrinking at an alarming level.
Sadeka Halim: We are losing cultivable land because of mushrooming of real estates and other land lords.
Farmers are losing interest in agriculture due to the price hike of agricultural elements. Female farmers are yet to get the recognition. Policy makers should think about how female farmers can get all the support in agriculture. According to a recent study the worth of the contribution of female farmers is in BDT 2,25.000.
Time has come to think about reforming our agricultural system to protect the cultivable land. Right to information act can be used by farmers to know about the prices and other information related to agriculture. Local administration is bound to give information. She invited farmers to arrange public hearing in their respective areas. Instead of impediments government is always concerned about giving fair price to farmers.
Dr. Shah Alam, Chairman, Bangladesh Law Commission, appreciated the initiative taken by Oxfam and CSRL. Getting fair price is always been a problem for the farmers in Bangladesh. Fair price depends on the import policy of the country. Global warming is threatening our agricultural sector as it emerged as a new problems for us. Water crisis is an another serious cause of losing our cultivable land. Nation should give extra care to address this issue.
Dr. Shah Alam: Law commission is working on empowering women and law is still under process. But it also need social movement.
Dr. Shah Alam: Thanks Oxfam, CSRL and GROW for organizing this National Farmers Hearing and mentions the paramount importance of fresh water supply for farmers.
Tasmima Hossain: It needs a holistic approach to bring positive changes in our agriculture. The Government can fix a rate for the farmers, modern technologies can be introduced to ensure fair price for farmers. This campaign is not only Oxfam’s campaign but should be a national campaign to ensure food security for Bangladesh.
Nurul Islam Masud concludes the program by a vote of thanks. He highlights the major issues and urges the importance of policy, advocacy and unity for the farmers.
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