The corona crisis has already exerted its devastating effects upon the world, and yet there is very little sign of its declining soon. People in Bangladesh have been suffering not only from corona virus infection but also from other related causes like unemployment, lack of food in the house, uncertain future, lack of treatment for various health problems and so many others. The government is trying to do its best to contain the spread of the coronavirus infection and help the poor and vulnerable to survive in the crisis period. But this is a gigantic task which demands support from everyone whoever is capable of providing that and joining hands by all. Support during this crisis can be of various types besides directly tackling with the corona attack.
Most of the productive sectors including the garment factories which have partially reopened now in the country have suffered the jolt from the COVID-19. Yet the country can survive all these shocks if the wheels of agriculture can move on. The government is, therefore, most concerned for keeping the agricultural production uninterrupted so that food shortage and starvation do not arise. The key to avoiding starvation will be in ensuring circulation of the food from the agricultural fields and maintaining income or cash for the poor and vulnerable. This will be a most crucial thing along with many others in order to face the challenges from the corona crisis.
To keep the agricultural production uninterrupted, ensuring the supply of agricultural products across the country and making those available to all people irrespective of their income and social levels are undoubtedly a hard job. Non-government organizations can work coordinately and along with the government in coping with this crucial task. One light of hope is seen in some such initiatives by CDIP (Centre for Development Innovation and Practices, an NGO) in some rural areas in the country.
This year there have been good harvests of melons and garlic in some villages of Gurudashpur in Natore. Many marginal sized farmers here took SMAP loans from CDIP. It became difficult for farmers to sell these agricultural products for lack of interest from wholesale buyers and transportation due to the corona crisis. CDIP staff at its Branch office in that area took the initiative of contacting some wholesale buyers and also truck drivers. They agreed to buy these products directly from the farmers by sending money through bKash. Now everyday 20 to 25 trucks are carrying the melons from these villages to different corners of the country. More than 2,000 melons grow in a bigha of land which brings about 50,000 taka for a farmer. Now Lovely, Laily, Badli, Masuda, Nurunnahar and many other village women are seeing hope in their lives during this corona crisis.
There has been a good harvest of guavas at Bonpara in Natore. The corona crisis seemed to crush the hopes of selling these products at a fair price. Thanks to the same initiative guava farmers in this area are having smile on their faces. Now 8 to 10 trucks are carrying their guavas to different parts of the country every day. Rina, Razia, Achhia, Khadija, Jahanara, Hasina and other members of CDIP are very happy to have a fair price for their products in this period of crisis.
Villages around Kashinathpur in Pabna have seen a good harvest of onions. Corona came with the sign of miseries for the famers here due to lack of wholesale buyers and the transport needed for carrying these to Dhaka and elsewhere in the country. For the CDIP initiative, the onion farmers are now able to sell their products at a good price. Some farmers here are selling 2 to 3 trucks of onions every day. This brings smile on the faces of Bazlur Rashid, Akkas Ali, Ilias Ali and others in these villages.
A small initiative by an NGO has given hope to some farmers to get a fair price for their products and also of carrying the agricultural products to the areas where they are in demand. Creating a linkage between the farmers in villages and the sellers and consumers in urban and suburban areas will play a good role in averting some crises that are feared for the coming days. This initiative can be broadened for many other agricultural and other products across the country. Many actors including NGOs in the country can think of this and other ways in order to face the economic challenges launched by the corona crisis and may contribute to some extent in overcoming it as quickly as possible.