Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday urged all concerned to produce and preserve foodgrains in the country mentioning that the world might face famine in the coming days as coronavirus will create a shortage of food.
"There’ll be a food recession due to coronavirus. In the future, there might be a global famine," she said.
The Prime Minister said this in her introductory speech while holding a videoconference with the public representatives and officials of eight districts of Dhaka and Mymensingh divisions on the present coronavirus situation in Bangladesh from her official residence Ganobhaban.
The districts are Manikganj, Gazipur, Tangail and Kishoreganj under Dhaka division and Jamalpur, Sherpur, Netrakona and Mymensingh under Mymensingh division.
Sheikh Hasina put emphasis on producing and preserving food to face the possible food crisis in the post-coronavirus regime. "If we can produce foods and preserve those then we won’t fall into that famine, rather we will be able to help many others. We’ve to take those steps from now."
She said the land in Bangladesh is fertile and people are laborious while Bangladesh currently is a food sufficient country.
"Let there not be an inch of land left without farming. We’ve to keep our eyes on that and that’s what I want," she said.
Referring to steps taken to harvest paddy in the field, Hasina asked the law enforcement agencies to cooperate in this regard as food is a very much important issue at this moment.
Bangladesh Television, Bangladesh Betar and some private TV channels and radio stations broadcast the videoconference live.
Earlier, the Prime Minister exchanged views with the public representatives and officials of 43 districts of Dhaka, Chattogram, Khulna, Sylhet and Barishal divisions in four phases.
The Prime Minister said the government has announced stimulus packages for various sectors of the country to revive the economy from the COVID-19 fallout. "We’ve given stimulus packages for all…we’ve taken this decision to keep the economy alive."
In this connection, she mentioned that the government has transferred budget allocation from mega projects to these stimulus packages for the welfare of the people of the country.
She said the government has announced a Tk 95,619 crore stimulus package which is 3.3 percent of the GDP. "Every sector will be under the stimulus packages… no sector will be left out."
Hasina stressed the importance of transporting the produced products within the country so that there is no scarcity of food and other items in the market.
For the upcoming Ramadan, she said, the government has taken special measurers so that there is no crisis of food in the holy month.
Hasina mentioned that paddy harvesting has started while more food grains will be produced in the coming days.
Talking about the government’s procurement of food items for preservation, she said the government will procure 8 lakh metric tonnes of paddy, 10 lakh metric tonnes of rice, 2,20,000 metric tonnes of atap (fine rice) and 80,000 metric tonnes of wheat. "So, there’ll be no problem of food in Bangladesh in the future."
Hasina mentioned that the government has taken these measurers to save the country from food crisis and economic recession. "That’s our aim and we’re working towards that direction."
The Prime Minister reiterated that this month will be the month of pain as this COVID-19 will spread more. "We’ve to remain more careful…if people keep themselves more protective and careful, then it’ll be easier for all to control this."
Regarding the use of protective gadgets like PPE by doctors and nurses, she asked all that only those who will look after patients will use these gadgets only. "If all start using these, then how we’ll provide those to doctors and nurses."
Hasina mentioned that some 14,63,840 PPEs have been imported while 10,80,069 distributed and 3,83,771 are there in stock.
She said coronavirus not only a problem for Bangladesh, but it also creates problem for the whole world and urged all to protect themselves. "We’ve taken various measurers, but often we see many people don’t want to follow health guidelines and they ultimately get infected."
Hasina mentioned that the whole world is panicked as an unusual situation is prevailing everywhere.
The Prime Minister again thanked doctors, nurses, health workers, police, armed forces for their tireless efforts for serving people. "Let me thank them, they’re working for people."
When any calamity appears, she said, all have to face that and the government has taken enough preparations to tackle it.
She sought all-out cooperation from people so that the COVID-19 cannot spread largely. “The situation is still better in Bangladesh compared to many developed nations of the world due to effective steps taken by the government.
Hasina said she has assigned secretaries to look after the relief and health safety at the district level and they will submit reports to her.
"There’s nothing to break down when comes a crisis. This has to be faced with courage… we did it in 1971 without united efforts, we’ll also be able to get rid of this calamity very soon," she said.