Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said the flood-affected farmers of haor areas will get fresh farm loan at only 4.5 percent interest rate, a cut by almost 50 percent.
"The affected farmers will get fresh agricultural loan at 4.5 percent interest rate to restart farming,” she said while addressing a public meeting at Khaliajuri Degree College ground of Netrokona , prior to the distribution of relief materials among the flood-hit people.
The Prime Minister reiterated her government’s decision to suspend the repayment of the current agricultural loan until the next crop, and said the government will also provide support to the farmers for the diversification of their occupation.
Assuring the people of the flood-affected areas of taking all the necessary measures for their protection, Sheikh Hasina said no one will suffer for lack of food and shelter as VGF activities will continue in the haor areas apart from the OMS ones.
"Now we've enough stock of food and we’ll import more food from abroad, if necessary,” she said adding that the government has make arrangements to make VGF rice available at union level at its own cost.
The Prime Minister arrived at Khaliajuri (Netrakona) in the morning by a helicopter to see for herself the situation of the flood-affected haor areas of the district.
She distributed relief goods among the flood-hit farmers and other distressed people before addressing the public meeting at Khaliajuri Degree College.
Hasina said the existing food assistance and other government cooperation for the flood- hit people of haor areas will continue.
The Prime Minister instantly directed the Deputy Commissioner of Netrokona district to prepare a list of homeless and landless people, and said the government will provide houses to all under its different projects, including ‘Ashrayan’ and ‘Cluster Village’ ones, alongside continuing the ‘One House One Farm project’.
She advised the farmers to take steps for rearing poultry birds and boosting the production of vegetables instead of depending on only paddy cultivation.
Mentioning the establishment of Haor Development Board by her government, Hasina said the Board is executing various development programmes in the haor areas.
Aiming to stop the recurrence of such disasters and minimise the sufferings of people, she said the government will construct embankments as well as excavate or re-excavate rivers and canals of the haor areas.
According to the district administration, 86 unions of 10 upazilas in the district have been affected, while crops on 28,425 hectors of land fully damaged in the recent flashflood. The number of affected families is 1,67,180. As many as 72 relief centres have been opened following the flood.
Around 648 metric tonnes of GR rice and TK 57.40 lakh GR cash have been allocated for 57,000 flood-hit families of the district. The distribution of special allocation of Tk 8.70 crore and 5,620 MT rice started on May 1.
Out of these, an amount of Tk 40 lakh was distributed as GR cash, while 437 metric tonnes of GR rice were distributed.
The number of allocated cards is 50,000, while the amount of cash money distributed so far is Tk 25 crore. Another amount of Tk 14.48 crore has been allocated for 16,108 beneficiaries under the employment programme taken for the ultra poor.
Now one metric tonne of rice is sold every day in the district through 72 OMS dealers. Initially, 30 KG rice and cash money of Tk 1,000 each are provided as a one-time support among 3.80 lakh families of the haor region.
Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud, Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, Food Minister Quamrul Islam and local parliament member Rebeka Momin, among others, addressed the meeting. Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahbub-ul Alam Hanif and Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports Arif Khan Joy were present.