Mega project for farmers’ benefit

In a major inspirational step to further boost the country’s agricultural sector, the government has mapped out a plan to help farmers reach greater heights in ensuring quality production of crops and vegetables.

Under the plan, the Department of Agriculture Marketing (DAM) will implement a Taka 160 crore project to impart training on quality farming to 3000 farmers of 31 districts to enable them to reap good harvest and sell their products at fair prices. “As a sequel to this agriculture-friendly plan, the government is overhauling the existing activities of DAM to strengthen its capacity for creating a countrywide marketing network of agricultural products,” said a senior DAM official.

He went on saying that “The department is constructing a number of infrastructures across the country with an aim to reach its logistic support to the doorsteps of the marginal farmers”. During the last Boro harvest, cultivators across the country incurred huge losses, as the prices offered at wholesale level did not even meet their production cost. Inadequate infrastructures for storage of the harvested crops had been attributed to the dismayed and discouraging situation faced by the farmers.

Faced with hurdles and uncertainty, stakeholders said a huge quantity of agricultural goods is being damaged every year due to the lack of sufficient warehouses at the district-level.

Taking the reality into cognizance and considering the farmers’ woes, the government has decided to build new warehouses and agricultural training centres at different districts to increase storage capacity and improve expertise.  Under the initiative, the DAM will construct 21 office-cum-training centres, besides providing training to 3000 farmers.

Quality control laboratories would also be established in 12 districts alongside providing training to 875 DAM employees and 750 workers, constructing 500 zero-energy cool chambers and eight workshops.

DAM sources said once the project is implemented it will help prevent crops and vegetables from rotting, resulting in reduction of losses of farmers. Such venture will help the growers get the real price of their produces, besides ensuring availability of quality products for the consumers, they said.

The project areas will cover the districts of Dhaka, Faridpur, Gazipur, Shariatpur, Gopalganj, Tangail, Narshingdi, Mymensingh, Sherpur, Chattogram, Cox's Bazar, Chandpur, Brahmanbaria, Cumilla, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Pachagarh, Sylhet, Sunamganj, Rajshahi, Pabna, Bagura, Sirajgang, Chapainawabganj, Khulna, Jessore, Jhenaidah, Kustia, Satkhira, Barisal and Bhola. To ensure the fastest transportation of crops and vegetables, the government is going to procure 125 new luggage vans under the project "Railway Stock Operations Improvements".

With the financial support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), 50 broad gauge and 75-meter gauge vans will be added to the railways fleet by next year. Railways sources said, once the luggage vans are introduced, it will ensure the fastest transportation, which will facilitate the farmers and enable consumers to get fresh vegetables at a lower price. Transportation cost for crops and vegetables from other parts to  the capital Dhaka through trains will also be reduced.

Aforesaid vans will include general vans for vegetables and crops while refrigerator vans for fish, milk and frozen foods. Commenting on this, railways secretary Md Mofazzol Hossain said the process of procuring luggage vans has already been completed, and four trains will be introduced for vegetables and crops transportation.

According to BR information, 35 percent of agricultural goods come from Jessore region to the capital city, almost 30 percent from Mymensingh, around 30 percent from Savar-Munshiganj. Apart from these, agricultural products also come from Rajshahi, Chapainawabganj, and Chattogram.