Stressing the importance of diversifying the country’s export basket with various agro-products, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said Bangladesh could exploit the opportunity of exporting organic foods as those have huge demand in the global market.
“A special demand for organic foods has been created across the globe …Bangladesh could exploit this opportunity as the prices of organic foods are much higher than the foods produced through chemical fertilizers, and the youth fore could voluntarily take initiative to this end,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina was addressing a function after handing over the Bangabandhu National Agriculture Award 1420 to some 28 individuals and four organisations at the Osmani Memorial Auditorium in the capital.
The Prime Minister also underlined the need for greater investment in agro-based industries in 100 economic zones being set up across the country.
Once the 100 economic zones are set up, she said, the country will be able to earn more foreign currencies through producing, processing and exporting agro-based products.
“Bangladesh is no longer a country of food deficit…it has attained food autarky and also made its place in global arena in many things, including rice, wheat, fish, vegetable and fruit production,” she said urging people not to keep their land fallow and maintain the production momentum.
The Prime Minister also reminded that development will continue across the county but all concerned must keep in mind that the environment is not harmed in any away.
Apart from boosting the agricultural production, steps should continue so that the farmers get the due prices of their produces alongside diversifying the export basket of the agricultural products through setting up more agro-processed industries, the Prime Minister said.
She observed that Bangladesh could take the opportunity for marketing and exporting the produces of the neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bhutan and the neighbouring provinces of India.
Hasina also urged the local entrepreneurs to invest more in crops and food grains, process those and thus boost the export basket.
The Prime Minister renewed her firm resolve to turn Bangladesh into a hunger- and poverty-free middle-income country by 2021 so that no one could neglect anymore Bangladesh as a poor and beggar country and a developed country by 2041.
Hasina her government after assuming office in 1996 gave special importance to modernising the agriculture production system. As a result, she said, the country has beoame self-reliant in food in four years.
The Prime Minister said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) awarded Bangladesh with the ‘Seres Medal’ in recognition of Bangladesh’s achievement in agriculture.
She said her government handed over state power in 2001, leaving Bangladesh as a food surplus country. But, it was again turned into a food-deficit country within two years thanks to misrule, corruption and mismanagement of the BNP-Jamaat government, she said.
The Prime Minister said after taking office for the second time in 2009, her government took steps to well-organize the agriculture system.
Turning to the country’s growing economic progress, the Prime Minister said no one will be able to undermine Bangladesh as the country has demonstrated its strength by going for implementing its gigantic Padma Bridge project with own fund.
“Bangladesh has achieved its independence under the Father of the Nation’s leadership…we want no one to neglect the Bengali Nation. Nobody, I think, will be able to undermine this nation as we’ve taught [them] a lesson over the Padma Bridge project …we’ve shown we can deliver,” she said.
The Prime Minister extended her heartfelt thanks to the people of the country in this regard for standing beside her when she had announced for building the much-hyped dream bridge with own fund after the false allegation of corruption.
“The overwhelming response that my government had received at that time from people boosted my morale,” she added.
The Ministry of Agriculture organised the function with Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury in the chair. Fisheries and Livestock Minister Mohammad Sayedul Haque was present as a special guest.
Sheikh Hasina said her government has taken various initiatives for development of rural economy, including poverty alleviation by transforming the agriculture into a profitable and commercial profession.
Congratulating the winners of Bangabandhu Jatiya Krishi Purashkar, the Prime Minister said they would inspire others to take the country’s future agriculture to its desired goal.