2018-06-23 11:16:17 BdST
Agri sector not getting its due in national budget
The country's agriculture sector is witnessing a sluggish growth in recent years and it is inadequate to propel the targeted GDP growth, experts warned at a seminar in the capital on Friday.
At the same time, the allocation for agriculture in the national budget in recent years has been far less compared to that given to other major sectors, the experts said.
The views came at a post-budget discussion organised by the Bangladesh Agricultural Economists Association in the capital.
Figures show that the growth in the budgetary allocation for agriculture is far lower than those of other major sectors, Member of the Planning Commission Professor Dr. Shamsul Alam said.
The budget allocation for transport has increased by 18 per cent in the last nine years, it has increased merely 7.6 per cent in agriculture, Professor Alam said in his keynote presentation.
"Education and IT have seen their budget allocations grow by 13.5 per cent while power and energy sector by 13 per cent," he added.
Professor Alam noted that the overall growth in the agricultural sector is also insufficient compared to what is required for fostering the GDP growth.
To attain the required 7.4 per cent GDP growth, he said the agriculture sector needs to grow at a rate of 4.5 per cent.
In contrast, the agriculture is growing at a rate of 3.5 per cent annually," he added.
"The growth rate is even less for crops," he noted.
Professor Alam said that since the fiscal year, 2014-15, the total amount of allocation and subsidies for the agriculture has remained stagnant at Tk. 90 billion.
Experts at the seminar called for initiating better quality research in agriculture and underlined the need for creating necessary legal framework for that purpose.
"Despite allocation of a substantial fund for agriculture, a large amount of the fund remains unutilised", said M. A. Sattar Mandal, Emeritus Professor of Bangladesh Agricultural University.
"Last year alone, around Tk. 32.5 billion of the total budget allocation of the Ministry of Agriculture remained unutilised", he added.
"Regardless of budget allocation in agriculture, no quality research projects have been undertaken in the agriculture sector in recent years," he added.
"There are also needs for better research on genetically modified seeds. But currently, there is an absence of necessary legal framework for that purpose in the country", said Professor Sattar, a former member of the Planning Commission.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith, who attended the seminar as the chief guest, admitted that the existing legal framework in the country was weak for conducting high-level research in agriculture.
Noting that the country has made significant strides in the production of maze over the decades, the finance minister called for further tapping this potential.
Speakers at the seminar also called for establishing a price commission to ensure fair price of agricultural commodities.
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