By Anita Barman from Chapainababganj
Bangladesh is a nation based primarily on agriculture and its farmers. The GDP of the country is mainly driven by the exports of agricultural and jute products. Almost 80% of the country’s fertile lands are used extensively for farming. But even so, the farmers of the country are not taken into consideration for the development of the nation and as such, farmers are almost never given the fair price for their crops. On the other hand, giving proper credits to agriculture is well restricted and hindered on all levels, both governmental and non-governmental. Farmers might need to go to several places for a job, but with help from their farms, they are easily able to create jobs for many others.
Let us think about an old farmer. When he is too old to farm, he does not have any backup for his retired life. The food supplier then requires food from another source to live on. On the other hand, any worker, government or otherwise gets a good pension to live on for the rest of his life. Farmers work for the vital food production for the country. Bangladesh, especially survives almost completely on this sector. This is in no way short of the contribution of doctors, engineers or government officials. But, while they are completely accounted for after retirement, the farmers do not possess any such leverage to survive on, even though they too serve the nation. Due to this, once a food supplier, the farmers themselves face food scarcity after they age. So, people gradually lose interest in the sector and look for jobs with much more job security.
Just as government provides subsidiaries to the agricultural sector, a farmer also gives taxes to the government. In fact, for every ton, a farmer gives to almost Tk. 200 in tax, much more than the country provides. This investment goes unnoticed and is never taken into consideration for the betterment of the farming division of the country’s infrastructure.
If we look at the food production of the country, we will observe that the farmers are extensively involved in almost all parts of the production. But these efforts go unnoticed and in return the farmers are, in reality, being betrayed. For example, when farmers produce the Bridhan-28, it has market price of Tk. 25-35. However, this very rice is then cut and polished to be sold in the upper levels of the food chain at a price of Tk. 40-50 by the new name Minikat. Therefore, Bridhan-28 becomes Minikat and the price soars by almost 125% and the farmers are left at a complete loss, while the sellers at the highest level, although not being producers, are retaining the largest profits. The consumers too are being betrayed and the process goes on.
The biggest problem that the farming sector faces is that their future is quite dark due to a steep decline in the future generation to engage in farming. Young children no longer take interest in agriculture and so even the children of farmers look for jobs in the town or in the city for better income and job security. Even the current number of farmers are declining due to lack of consideration for them form their own government. The farmers work tirelessly to provide food for the country and do not receive any sort of assurance whatsoever in return. They are not currently being well looked after, they do not receive proper prices for their crops and more importantly, the government has no laws to look after its farmers when they become too old to provide for themselves. Therefore, the farmers are being deviated from farming and agriculture falls into a deeper and darker future.
From this backdrop, the claims for pensions for farmers have been raised most strongly by the Nachol Press club as well as in the parts of the country.Its executive director Md. Oliul Haque Dollar. The general secretary of the Nachole press club thus put forward by saying, “Pension for farmers are not at all unreasonable. Many ask for the justification of providing farmers with pensions. I say that if we provide widows with subsidies and give old men pensions, why will we not provide our farmer men and women, people who work with their sweat and blood to provide a vital food source for the nation with a pension that takes care of their retired lives? Shall we claim that these people continue to work in the blistering sun plowing their fields, even though their bodies cannot cope? Therefore, I comply with the requests put forward by the journalists and reporters of our country to provide suitable amounts of pensions for the farmers so that one day, pensions for these people will be a regular sight to see.”
Farmers around the country, including leader Hassan Ali have raised their pleas to the entire country for the betterment of their lives once they grow too old to work. These men and women work towards providing the country with the primary source of its survival and global income. Is it therefore, too much to ask of the country to return that favour with a small investment to ensure that their farmers can have a job security and are taken care of, just like they care of us?
Translated by Adit Narayan Adhikary