Farmer's Home-to-Home Loan Festival by AB Bank
Mia Monsaf: It wouldn't be an exaggeration to call the farmers of Bangladesh warriors of life. They are engaged in this battle at every step of their lives. A battle against scarcity and uncertainties in their households! A battle to save the crops produced from natural disasters! A battle to endure the oppression of NGOs and moneylenders!
Despite all these battles, farmers strive to survive. If a farmer finds a helping hand, it brings joy to their Eid.
AB Bank Limited has provided agricultural loans to nearly one-fifth of the farmers in almost fifty districts of the country through the Smart Card at a low-interest rate, which is significant compared to the total number of farmers in the country. But those who have received these loans need no rain other than a downpour of happiness.
This opportunity has been provided by Bangladesh's private AB Bank Ltd. Considering the farmers of the country, AB Bank has taken this initiative on its own. This loan distribution program by AB Bank is highly acclaimed nationwide. The farmers who have received the loan are rejoicing in their homes. The joy reached Gopalgonj from Tungipara in the Gopalganj district as AB Bank started distributing loans among the farmers through the Smart Card at the beginning of this year. The latest distribution of loans took place among the farmers of the Sadar area at Ghor-e Shahid Boro Maidan in Dinajpur.
On that historic day at Ghor-e Shahid Boro Maidan, Mia Monsaf, sitting under a huge pandal, remained ecstatic, waiting for the farmers who were expecting their loans. The intensity of the rain could not dampen the hopeful faces of the farmers who were eagerly awaiting their loans. I managed to ask one farmer and found out that due to a lack of money, he was unable to cultivate his land. The opportunity of receiving a loan through AB Bank's Smart Card has arrived for him. He asked if he would receive a message on his mobile phone. I reassured him that since he had been listed for the loan, he would definitely receive it! Overwhelmed with joy, this farmer immediately mingled with other farmers. The hopeful farmers are filled with happiness due to the expectation of receiving loans from AB Bank. Those who have already received loans can consider themselves fortunate without any worries, troubles, or uncertainties. They are truly blessed!
The distribution of loans took place during a nearly one-and-a-half-hour program, where agricultural experts were present as guests. They provided a lot of information on agriculture. Among the five districts in Dinajpur, they also highlighted the district's significant agricultural production. In addition to rice, wheat, and lychee, they also mentioned the hope for new crop production. We, as the people of this country, are also optimistic because the farmers in this country are capable of providing us with the crops that sustain our lives. They play a crucial role in the development of the country.
After the loan distribution program, there was a meeting in the evening where an introduction took place with a young entrepreneur. This young man's name is Mosaddek Hossain, and he is highly educated. He has a Master's degree in Botany. Instead of seeking employment, he became a young entrepreneur. He has established a unique industry and is focused on honey production based on lychee gardens. He mentioned that lychee cultivation can take place on 5,000 hectares of land in Dinajpur. By establishing honey production based on lychee gardens, Dinajpur can be recognized as a honey district. It will also lead to a 30% increase in lychee production.
Mosaddek Hossain has already received approval for his honey production establishment named "MBF Honey," which falls under the cottage and small industry (basic) category. He has arranged training for more than 400 individuals. These young individuals will also have the opportunity for self-employment. They will be involved in the production of another product alongside the locally produced goods in Dinajpur, which is honey, an essential element for health.
AB Bank provides loans to all farmers involved in the production of rice, wheat, maize, poultry, and livestock. If honey producers are included within the loan scope, many young individuals can advance in honey farming and have opportunities for self-employment.
I thought that other banks would also follow AB Bank's path in the distribution of agricultural loans. However, it has not happened yet. Currently, there are around forty private banks in the country. If they also step forward like AB Bank, most farmers in the country would receive agricultural loans. This would enable farmers to increase their production, leading to a reduction in the food crisis in the country. Due to the global economic downturn, European countries are facing a food shortage. Agricultural production has declined. Without focusing on increasing our food production, we cannot cope with the world's food crisis.
The honorable Prime Minister, as the guardian of the nation, has made the announcement of bringing every inch of land under cultivation. She has given this instruction to the people of the country. To achieve the goal of utilizing every inch of land, economic cooperation is essential. Individuals or organizations need to provide this cooperation.
Those involved in agricultural production, which is the profession of the majority of the people in this country, are not familiar with modern agriculture. They still follow traditional farming methods. Gradually, they are getting involved in modern farming. This requires financial resources.
In modern agricultural practices, farmers are aware that increased cooperation and support in agriculture not only benefits them but also contributes to the improvement of the country's economy and ensures food availability for the people. However, the lack of advancement in this sector by banks and other organizations is evident.
It is true that banks provide loans with higher interest rates to industrial factories because they generate higher profits. Banks are more inclined to provide loans to industrial sectors due to their potential for greater returns. Therefore, expecting equal support in all sectors is not realistic.
In some cases, it is not possible to expect higher returns due to inherent risks. Those in top positions in private banks need to be courageous. It is important to make the owners of banks understand their responsibility towards the country and its people. The managing director of AB Bank, Mr. Tarik Ahsan, has played a significant role in providing agricultural loans to farmers at the lowest possible interest rates. Since the beginning of the year, he has implemented a scheme to distribute loans through smart cards among small-scale farmers.
This way, banks will not be at a loss, although the profit margin may be lower compared to industrial establishments. However, the benefits in other aspects are not insignificant.
Farmers have been able to increase their production, which has changed their own fortunes. On the other hand, the food security of the country has been strengthened. Keeping money in the bank's treasury will not yield any profit if there is no food security in the country. Similarly, if the country cannot rely on food imports from abroad.
Our country is characterized by mountains and seas, which are unique features. Despite this, we have the potential to increase our food production from plains, mountains, and coastal areas. All it requires is sincere efforts. Both the government and private organizations need to prioritize this awareness. In the future, as the population increases rather than decreases, it is essential to focus on increasing agricultural production multiple times. All institutions need to come forward, just like AB Bank, in supporting farmers. The stronger a country is in terms of food self-sufficiency, the more powerful it becomes.
Author: Columnist and President, Bangabandhu Shishu Kishore Mela.