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PM Sheikh Hasina emphasises arable land preservation for food production

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday laid emphasis on the preservation of arable land for food production as the country has already lost a huge quantity of good quality and fertile land for unplanned industrialisation.

“A huge quantity of fertile arable land has been lost due to unplanned industrialisation, urbanisation and housing as the previous governments (before our) didn’t concentrate on it. We don’t want to lose such land anymore and that is why we’ve taken strict measures to preserve it,” she said.

The Premier said this while speaking at the ceremony of the 25th University Day of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University (BSMRAU) and inaugurating the Technology Exhibition.

The programme was held at the Begum Sufia Kamal Auditorium while the Prime Minister joined it virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban.

Mentioning that geographically Bangladesh is a very small country but it has huge number of population, she said “So, we have to protect the existing arable land to secure the food production of this vast population.”

In this regard, she said the government has been setting up 100 special economic zones across the country where anyone can establish industry.

“No arable land, which is being used for produce three types of crops round the year, can be utilised for industrialisation,” she said, adding that “if anyone set up industry on such type of land, they would not get any facility (from government) and we are taking this measure to this end.”

Liberation War Affairs Minister A K M Mozammel Huq, MP, Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni, MP, and Deputy Minister for Education Mohibul Hassan Chowdhoury, MP, and BSMRAU Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Md Giashuddin Miah also spoke.

A documentary on the University was also screened at the programme.

BSMRAU is a government-financed 13th public university of Bangladesh. It is located at Salna, Gazipur. It was established in 1998 as a public university with an act promulgated by the government of Bangladesh.

The Prime Minister reiterated her call the countrymen to increase food production and preserve those properly to save the country from any danger following the economic recession being posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war.

“. . . we have to increase our production and preserve those so our country must not trapped in any danger,” she said.

She noted economic recession has been emerged around the world as the outcome of the Coronavirus and sanction and counter-sanction centering Ukraine-Russia war.

“As a result, the prices of food items shoot up that much high which is beyond the purchasing capacity of all. Apart of that, prices of everything including power, fuel and transportation have been increased,” she said.

Talking about the preservation capacity, she said that the government has set up a number of modern silos to preserve rice. “This kind of godowns are urgently needed for those food items which we are producing here,” she said.

The Prime Minister also said that the government is emphasising on the food processing industries in the 100 economic zones that are setting up in different parts of the country by the government.

She said that women entrepreneurs can avail this opportunity as special facility has been kept for them there.

The Prime Minister also put emphasis on research on food items to ensure food security for the people of the country.

She asked the authorities concerned along with involved persons to put concentration on producing more oil seeds in the country to reduce the dependency on others.

Sheikh Hasina said that the country is importing edible oil from outside the country, 98 percent of edible oil comes from abroad.

“But, the mustard oil is the best for health. It can be upgraded through refining. We can do that,” she said.

In this connection, she said that there were various types of edible oil seeds in the country.

“We must not dependent on others, Why we will import from outside. We have to put more attention and do more research on edible oil production from various types of seeds. We have to take initiatives for that,” she added.

The premier said that the government has put emphasis on research on jute and jute made items to make it more diversified to earn foreign exchange.

“Jute can be a very important product in our export basket, we have to put more attention on this item,” she said.

The Prime Minister briefly described various steps of the government to improve the agricultural products production and thanked the researchers for their utmost sincerity for inventing new varieties.

Referring to the measures taken by her government in 1996, she said they have allocated separate fund for research to increase food production, as Awami League assumed power after 21 years with the burden of 40 Lakh metric tons of food deficit.

But, later the country attained self-sufficiency in food production during the tenure of Awami League government in 1996, she added.

Sheikh Hasina said that agriculture is the key of the country’s economy where skilled workforce is required and that is why her government established agriculture universities.

Alongside education, she said that the government is also putting emphasis on mechanisation of agriculture and boost the productivity as well as produce skill workforce.

The Prime Minister said that it would be not enough to make the country self-sufficient in food production, but also nutrition of the country’s people has to be ensured.

She said that her government has put concentration to boost production of egg, meat, milk and others through conducting proper research.