South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem) has called giving farmers for interest-free loan, rather than a 4 percent interest loan for them.
"It must also be ensured that only genuine farmers who need it have access to the loan," it said.
Sanem Executive Director Dr Selim Raihan presented a four-point suggestion for the agricultural sector of Bangladesh in the present context of COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press release.
In the second proposal, he said only disbursement of loans is not enough. "The supply chain of agricultural materials has been disrupted due to the current crisis and ongoing lockdown. Thus, the farmers’ access to agricultural materials and tools must be ensured," he said.
Dr Raihan in his third proposal said Sanem has been pointing out that due to the lockdown the internal mobility of agricultural workers has been curtailed.
“To address the issue of the supply chain of agricultural materials and mobility of agricultural workers, we have been suggesting inter-ministry collaboration among the Health, Agriculture, Home and Road Transport ministries,” he added.
"The local administration, local businessmen and network of agricultural workers also need to collaborate in this regard. Specific health protocol for agricultural workers should be developed," the Sanem chief said.
In the last proposal, he mentioned that for years, farmers are not getting the fair price for their crops and middlemen are depriving farmers of their rightful share.
Even, he said, in the case of a price hike of paddy and rice, mill owners become the beneficiary, not the farmers. In the context of the current crisis, we believe, this problem must be addressed.
"Since the local administration is now very active at the grassroots level during the ongoing crisis, in collaboration with the local administration it is necessary to increase substantially the amount of government procurement of paddy directly from the farmers at a fair price," Dr Raihan said.
In this regard, he suggested that the government warehouses are utilised to the maximum. “If the government warehouses fall short, then private warehousesshould be rented by the government.”
Dr Raihan said the ongoing crisis demands putting highest priority to agriculture and food security.