Farmers with disabilities are an example to society: Information Minister
Shahidul Islam Nirob:
A total of 86 percent of the people with physical and leprosy disabilities in Bangladesh are directly involved in agriculture while the income of 88 percent of people with disabilities has been reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The information was revealed in the ‘Research Findings Dissemination and Journalist Award Giving Ceremony’ at Krishibid Institution Bangladesh (KIB) Complex auditorium in Dhaka on Saturday (December 19, 2020) organized by The Leprosy Mission International-Bangladesh and supported by Bangladesh Krishak League, ICCO-Cooperation and NOREC.
Two researches titled ‘The Role of People with Disabilities in Agriculture’ and ‘COVID-19 Impacts on the Lives & Livelihoods of People with Disabilities’ were conducted in between September & December 2020.
Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud was present at the event as the chief guest while Samir Chanda, President of Bangladesh Krishok League, Umme Kulsum Smrity, MP, General Secretary, Bangladesh Krishok League, Mahfuz Hossain Mridah, Director (In Charge), Field Services Wing, Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Salomon Sumon Halder, Country Director, The Leprosy Mission International-Bangladesh (TLMI-B), Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Head of Programs, Country Office Bangladesh, ICCO Cooperation, and Jiptha Boiragee, Project Support Coordinator, TLMI-B, were present as special guests.
Attending the event as the chief guest, Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud, said ‘It’s exemplary when persons with disability contribute to agriculture.’
Agriculture is a backbreaking job, I appreciate persons with disabilities who have been working this excruciating job and contributing to national agricultural production, Minister said.
He also said that the amount of arable land has been reducing fast but for the timely steps by this government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Information Minister urged all to be aware to protect arable land and emphasized rooftop agriculture and agricultural activities in cities besides rural areas.
Mentioning rituals about hiding children with disabilities in earlier times in Bangladesh, Minister said ‘Now parents teach their children with disabilities to make them educated and self-reliant.’
After handing over awards to journalists who filed reports on farmers with disabilities, Information Minister thanked them for speaking for the excluded and vulnerable people of the society.
Minister also thanked The Leprosy Mission International-Bangladesh for doing research on persons with disabilities in agriculture.
Attending the event as a special guest, Bangladesh Krishok League President Shamir Chanda, said: “Since my party is an organization of farmers, we will take steps to include farmers with disabilities in all levels.”
‘We’ll honor successful farmers with disabilities in agriculture in the next year,’ he added.
Journalists Awarded for Reporting on Farmers with Disabilities
The Leprosy Mission International-Bangladesh awarded nine journalists for reporting on persons with disabilities in agriculture.
Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud handed over the crests to the reporters at the event.
Televisions: Hasnat Rabby, reporter of Channel 24 obtained the first prize in the reporting competition titled ‘Role of People with Disabilities in Agriculture’. BTV reporter Afrin Jahan and DBC reporter Tahsina Sadeque jointly became the second while Jamuna TV reporter Ramiz Ahsan and GTV reporter Ferdous Arefin occupied the third position.
Newspapers: Dainik Amader Shomoy reporter M H Robin got the first position in newspaper reporting, Desh Rupantor reporter Md Abdullah Al Mamun and Bangladesh Pratidin reporter Nizamul Haque Bipul jointly became second. Bhorer Kagoj’s Dumuria, Khulna Correspondent Sheikh Mahtab Hossain obtained the third position. Besides, Mir Khairul Alam of Bijoy Bangladesh and freelance journalist Roton Malo were awarded.
86% people with disabilities directly involved in agriculture
According to the study titled ‘The Role of People with Disabilities in Agriculture in Bangladesh’, 86 percent people with physical and leprosy disabilities are directly involved in agriculture in Bangladesh.
A total of 210 physically challenged people from 32 upazilas under 16 districts of Bangladesh, attended face to face interviews as key respondents in the study. Of them 42 percent were found as the main wage-earning members of the family.
According to the study findings, 62% of persons with disabilities are involved in chicken farming, 52% in livestock rearing, 36% in vegetables farming while 37% people found involved in land cultivation.
The study conducted by TLMI-B also reveals that only 12.86% farmers with disabilities are government-recognized farmers while the rest of 87.14% farmers with disabilities are deprived of government agricultural services.
Besides, only 4% of the farmers with disabilities are affiliated to the agriculture-based committees at union, upazila and district level and the remaining 98% are not associated with any committee.
The study findings also reveal that 24% farmers with disabilities face problems regarding disable-friendly agricultural equipment.
Meanwhile, 31% of the farmers with disabilities face difficulties in getting agri-loan, while 32% of the farmers with disabilities informed that they have no money or capital to start agriculture despite having capability.
In response to another question in the quantitative study, 67 percent of the farmers with disabilities said they need capital assistance, 55 percent said they should be included in government policy, 51 percent demanded fertilizer while 48 percent wanted seed assistance.
88% farmers with disabilities face income loss during COVID-19
A separate study titled “COVID-19 Impacts on Life & Livelihood of Farmers with Disabilities in Bangladesh”, reveals that income of 88 percent farmers with disabilities has been reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This study shows also 81 percent farmers with disabilities were deprived of proper treatment facilities thanks to the pandemic.
As the income of the majority number of farmers with disabilities was reduced, 22 percent of them were forced to marry off their daughters to reduce family costs.
Meanwhile, the income of women with disabilities has decreased more than of men during the COVID-19 pandemic, the study shows.
The study also reveals that 65.14 percent farmers with disabilities lost the scope of income during the lockdown due to the pandemic. On the other hand, 36 percent farmers with disabilities have been forced to work at low wages.
After reviewing the study findings, the researchers suggested that since changing of any policy is a lengthy process, the existing government agricultural facilities should be made available for all the farmers with disabilities on priority basis by issuing gazette notification as an emergency response to COVID-19.
Professor Dr. Shahana Nasrin, Institute of Social Welfare and Research, Dhaka University and Ashley Comma Roy, Assistant Professor, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh, Jiptha Boireagee, Project Support Coordinator, TLMI-B & researcher James Sujit Malo, TLMI-B, performed as mentors in the study.