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Dhaka, 14th October, 2018. Today, from a press conference, speakers urged to ensure equal rights for women in family income and decision-making process. The demand came from a press conference titled ‘Ensure fair right of women to family income’ organized by the National Committee on International Rural Women’s Day Celebrations. On the eve of the International Rural Women Day (15th October), speakers also opined that, besides usual household work, women are involved in various unpaid work in agricultural, fisheries, forestry, livestock and various labor-intensive industries. However, due to the lack of financial value of these invisible labors, women are not properly recognized in the family and in the society. Therefore, women’s opinion in the decision-making process is ignored and neglected. For the overall socio-economic development of the country, the legal recognition of women’s contribution must be ensured, the press conference organizers urged.

Organizers informed that, International Rural Women’s Day will be celebrated in more than 40 districts. Like every year, the day is being celebrated this year too with various programs including rallies, seminars, human chains, fairs and awarding person contributing in different fields of rural women empowerment. They also informed that, since 2000, in Bangladesh, various voluntary and development organizations (NGOs) have been celebrating rural women’s day at local and national level with their own funding under the banner National Celebration Committee. It is to be mentioned that EquityBD works as secretariat of National Committee on International Rural Women’s Day Celebrations.

The Press Conference was moderated by Ferdous Ara Rumee, Secretariat Coordinator of the National Committee on Rural Women’s Day Celebrations, while Shamima Akhter, the President of the alliance, presented the keynote paper on the press conference. Member of the National Committee Nahid Sultana, Masuda Faruque Ratna Executive Director of Gram Bikash Sohayok Songtha, Morzina Ahmed Executive Director of Disable Welfare Society, Rehana Begum of Bangladesh Krishok Fedaration, Ivan Ahmed Kotha of Socheton Somaj Seba Hizra Songha were also spoke at the occasion.

Shamima Akhter said, women are doing more household works than men in Bangladesh, in an average women’s more than 6 hours household’s work are not getting any recognition. On the contrary, a man spends only one hour on such work. If women’s household work can be calculated in monetary, total value will be 87.2 percent of total GDP of Bangladesh. According to the article 345 of the Bangladesh Labor Act 2006, wages of women and mele should be equal, but in the case of transplanting and processing of crops, men’s daily wages is about where 300-600b taka, but women get only 350 taka. Though increasing women’s participation in agriculture seems apparently women’s empowerment, its main advantage is the long-lasting benefits of working with low wages.

Ferdous Ara Rumee said, along with household activities, rural women are involved with different kinds of activities like farming, fisheries and livestock. But since women’s invisible works like these don’t have any monetary value, they don’t have rights to make their own decision, they can’t take petrification in the family level decision naming process. To ensure true women empowerment, to ensure women’s rights in family and state level, invisible efforts of women must be recognized legally.

Nahid Sultana said, women are now not recognized as farmers even after making huge contributions to agriculture. Due to lack of recognition as farmer, they do not get any benefit from government initiatives taken for farmers. When these facilities are ensured, the contribution of women in agriculture will be increased.

Morzina Ahmed said, women’s labor is not considered as a source of household income in rural agriculture, rather it is considered a source of reduction in overall expenditure in crop production. Because if a worker is employed, he will have to be paid, and it is not possible to make work by that labour at the will of the family. In this way, even women are playing a vital role in family income, there is no recognized of their contribution.

Masuda Faruque Ratna said, through the change of law, women’s work, women’s unpaid labor should be recognized. . This recognition will increase women’s social status as well as it will ensure their economic independence and justice.
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Bali, 9th October 2018: As the signatory of Grand Bargain Principles (an UN led discourse of WHS) World Bank is urged to promote localization i.e. partnering with the local organizations in Cox’s Bazar, in the Rohingya refugee responses in Bangladesh.

Mr. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Executive Director of COAST Trust and Co-Chair of CCNF (Cox’s Bazar CSO-NGO Forum) made this urge in his speech during the session titled ‘Meet with EDs of World Bank’. He announces 3 concrete proposals for the World Bank for the Rohingya refugee response in Cox’s Bazar and those are:
1. To prepare a Rohingya pooled fund in view of GB commitment to promote local NGOs and Community who are leading the response.
2. To support GOB in view of UNHCR solidarity paper to support and assist the government of Bangladesh in macro-economic level, and
3. To consider support GOB for area development approach in Cox’s Bazar to promote economic, social and human development potentialities in the long run.

Mr. Hasan, Dean of EDs of World Bank, Ms. Aparna, ED responsible for Bangladesh were also present in the meeting that took place on 9th October 2018 in Bali, Indonesia.

In his speech, Mr. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury thanked the WB president Dr. Jim for announcing half a billion USD for Rohingya response. He also mentioned that we had an opportunity to meet Dr. Jim along with UNSG and hand over a memorandum in this relation.

Mr. Reza raised question in his speech that why WB should not prepare a plan for localization so that local NGOs / CSOs and local communities would lead a humanitarian and development efforts through a ‘Whole of Society Approach’ (WOSA) as WB is one of the signatories of GB (Grand Bargain). He stressed on reducing the fund management cost through a pragmatic reduction of the internationalized response approach.

Mr. Reza also said, the Government of Bangladesh deserves more macro-economic level solidarity support and Cox’s Bazar requires more area development support during the refugee response. Otherwise, this will create vulnerability in the long run for the local people as well as the national economy.

Dean of EDs Mr. Hasan said in response that partnering with local NGOs is a reality of political economy.

Ms Aparna the ED responsible for Bangladesh accepted the notion of Mr. Reza and said that partnering with local NGOs is a smart partnership.

While explaining the Grand Bargain, Mr. Reza said, WB is the distinguished signatory of GB commitments where there are 10 workstreams with 51 indicators. Important feature is stream 2 i.e. localization, that means giving the steering of humanitarian response to the local actors e.g. local government and local NGOs. It also means, the reduction of transaction cost through effective coordination and continuous striving, accountability to the local community and affected population, and finally, use of local knowledge and local resources. [Click here for video link]

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Dhaka, 25th August 2018. Today a group of civil society right activists led by CCNF (Cox’s Bazar CSO and NGO Forum) and COAST Trust organized a human chain in front of National Press Club, Dhaka on the eve of the anniversary of 25th August 2017 Rohingya influx in Bangladesh titled “Myanmar Junta must be held accountable for Rohingya genocide and Ensure transparency and accounts of all relief fund”. The human chain rally is moderated by Mostafa Kamal Akhanda of COAST. Other speakers are Badrul Alam and Zayed Iqbal Khan of Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Subol Sarkar Bangladesh Bhumihin Samity, Barkat Ullah Maruf of COAST and Rezaul Karim Chowhdury of CCNF and COAST.
On behalf of the group Barkat Ullah Maruf of COAST explains the position paper and places five point demands as follows; (i) Myanmar junta must be brought to the International Criminal Court for justice, otherwise such ethnic cleansing and genocide like Rwanda will occur again and again in the history. (ii) UN agencies and INGOs (International non-government organization) must emphasize the justice rather than providing relief. Specially India, China and Russia must play an effective role in this regard. (iii) Rohingya refugees have the right for Human Dignity as they will be living here for longer time. At any cost present approach of sheltering in the camp area have to be changed for their human dignity, education and other rights. The Whole of Society Approach (WOSA) must be followed in addressing the refugee issue, (iv) Relief should not be a business for some national and international agencies. So, all agencies must publish their relief accounts with transparency of how much they spent for input, operation and management cost. All these accounts must be examined by public audit. (v) Bangladesh should strengthen its diplomatic effort and take multilateral approach rather than the bilateral one so that Myanmar is able to dilly-dally and hypocritical approach.
Badrul Alam of Bangladesh Krishok Federation said, the Rohingya refugee issue is a one the imposed problem on Bangladesh like climate change one, where Bangladesh is an innocent victim.
Mostafa Kamal Akanda of COAST said that the global interest on Rohingya issues is fading away and one day the INGOs and UN agencies will be fled away. Bangladesh government will be remaining alone to take responsibilities. So, from now on, Bangladesh government should take full accounts of UN agencies and INGOs with full public transparency.
Subol Sarkar of Bhumihin Somity said that, UN agencies and INGOs spend money in a lavish way. We do not need around 1,500 expatriates for this Rohingya response.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of CCNF and COAST said that, Bangladesh is respectful to the human right and this is why our Honorable Prime Minister opened the boarder for the Rohingya refugees. We are proud for that. But it should not be considered as our weakness. we have billion-dollar business with India, China and Russia. Especially with India and Russia we have proven relation since they have helped us during our liberation war in 1971. They should leverage with sincere efforts to put pressure on Myanmar government to take back the Rohingyas with dignity. They must give Bangladesh a space to take a breath to develop from a least developed to a middle income country.
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Dhaka, 19th August 2018. Today Local NGO alliance named Bangladeshi NGOs for WHS (World Humanitarian Summit), Coxsbazar CSO NGO Forum (CCNF) and COAST with the support of Oxfam have organized a press conference held at National Press Club Dhaka in observance of 19th August World Humanitarian Day title “We Demand Road Map on Localization in Humanitarian and Development Work, System of Compensation in Accidents for Local Partner Workers”. Speakers in the press conference demanded equality in partnership from UN agencies and INGOs (International NGOs) rather than practice of treating as sub – contractors. They also demand a system of accidental compensation of local NGO workers while they work in partnership projects of UN agency and INGOs, like as the system UN and INGOs have already in place. It should be noted that a local NGO name Mukti’s staff Rezina Akhter have had died on 15 July 2018 in a road accident in Coxsbazar Teknaf road while she is going for work in Rohingya camp. Since 2008 with the call from UN, NGOs are observing 19th August World Humanitarian Day worldwide especially to pay tribute to the workers who have sacrifice life during humanitarian work in any part of the world.
The press conference was moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowhdury of COAST and CCNF, other guest speakers were Emranul Hague Chowdhury Chairman Credit and Development Forum (CDF); Rafiqul Islam Director Federation of NGOs in Bangladesh (FNB); Kawsar Ahmed Konok, Coordinator Association of Development Agencies in Bangladesh (ADAB); Masuda Faruque Ratna Executive Director, Gram Bikash Kendra (GBK); Mizanur Rahman, Humanitarian Program Manager Oxfam; Shawkat Ali Tutul from COAST and Bangladeshi NGOs for WHS; Md Shahidul Islam Voice of South Bangladesh; and Faruque Ahmed Trinomul Unnayan Sangsta of Moymonsingh.
Shawkat Ali Tutul of COAST has presented four point demands form UN and INGOs as they have already signed Grand Bargain commitment (May 2016), Charter for Change (2015) and Principle of Partnership (2006). The expectations are, (i) UN agencies and INGOs should declare a road map that they will roll back from field operation and will give leadership to the local NGOs, (ii) They should also take long term institution development planning to support local NGOs to develop themselves as sovereign and accountable organization, (iii) UN agencies and INGOs should stop staff poaching from local NGOs as they are working for sustainable development of the country by local NGOs, all NGOs and UN agencies should prepare common frame work of salary and facilities of all development workers in the countries. Local NGOs should be given compensation while their staff will be hired by UN agencies and INGOs and (iv) UN agencies and INGOs should keep system provision to compensate local NGO staff while they face accident or die during humanitarian work.
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Today 21 July 2018, in a seminar, right based civil society organizations and experts demanded the government to develop an appropriate and pro poor policy to realize the untapped resources in the Bay of Bengal in the context of poverty reduction and achieving the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goal). They also demand to ensure coastal fishers’ access to the fishging in the Bay of Bengal that is going to be government planning. The seminar is held at CIRDAP auditorium titled “Blue Economy of Bangladesh: Context, Poverty Reduction and SDGs” organized by COAST Trust.
Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad- Economist & Chairman-PKSF chaired the seminar while Md. KM Abdus Salam, Director General of NGO Affairs Bureau participated as the chief guest and Mr. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Executive Director of COAST Trust moderated the proceedings. Keynotes are presented by Dr. Lailufar Yasmin (Professor of International Relation, Dhaka University), Dr. Md. Moshiur Rahman (Professor of Fisheries and Marine Resource Technology Discipline, Khulna University) and Mr. Salehin Sarfaraz (Coordinator, Partnership & Advocacy, COAST Trust). Among others, Dr. Sayedur Rahman Chowdhury (Professor of Institute of Marine Sciences and fisheries, Chittagong University), Dr. AKM Aminul Hoque (Director-Marine Department of Fisheries) and Mr. Pankaj Hazaarika-Director BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) spoke as expert in the seminar while civil society representatives raised their opinion and recommendations.

The keynote presenters have addressed two important issues of foreign policy and government’s poverty reduction approach through Blue Economy. Their recommendations include, i. Bangladesh is seen as a central cohesive source as the economic hub connecting Asian states. So, we have to be cautious to design the Blue Economy strategies in case of trade, resource capturing and geo-political perspectives; ii. Government should emphasize on coastal poverty dimensions where fishers are the major part of the poverty. So, create opportunities and access for the coastal population especially for the fishers. Government must ensure access for the fishers to the fishing sphere of the Bay of Bengal by developing an appropriate policy and action plan. This will contribute to the growth and reducing socio-economic inequality.

Dr. Sayedur Rahaman said that government has policy but there are considerable gaps between policy assumption and real base data. This need to remove those gaps and prepare special plan connecting policy and information. He expresses concern of declining trend of fish in the Bay of Bengal and plan for alternative livelihood of coastal fishers.

Dr. Aminul Hoque said that multi-stakeholder engagement is required in the process of the Blue Economy strategy. We have to consider the alternative livelihood of coastal fishers and good to know that the government has taken project with World Bank for this. His proposed to initiate cage aquaculture in estuaries of Bay of Bengal during the ban period of Hilsha fishing for the benefit of coastal communities.

Md KM Abdus Salam said that coastal fishers should be rescued from the high interest loans if we really want to develop their livelihood. He requests the NGOs to work on this issue. Mr. Pankaj Hazaarika opine that, Bangladesh can take lead initiate effective cooperation among the BIMSTEC in view of implementing Blue Economy issues.

Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said in his speech, we are revising our BCCSAP (Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan) where the Blue Economy issues will be addressed. He also opines to set priorities for Blue Economy activities with required pro poor infrastructure development and institutional capacity building. Relation to this issue, he asks to open all public water bodies for the benefit of genuine fisher communities.
Mr. Nurul Islam, Chairman, Fisherman Association, Bhola, proposed government to save the fish breeding zones like Sundarban Mangrove forest in the estuaries of Meghna and Halda rivers. He also demands to take protecting measures for the coastal fishers and their resources from the pirates.

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Today 14 June 2018, nine civil society networking organizations on climate change coordinated by COAST Trust and EquityBD has organized a press conference at national press club and demand to give focus climate resilient Infrastructure development for climate Financing in upcoming national budget for 2018-19 fiscal year. They also criticize government for coating the traditional development budget as climate finance. They urged government to ensure adequate and additional new budget for climate resilient economy and building adaptive capacity of coastal people.

The press conference is moderated by M Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Chief Moderator of EquityBD and key demand is read out by Syed Aminul Hoque of same organization. Among the others, Mr. Quamrul Islam Chowdhury, President-Federation Environment Journalist Forum Bangladesh, Motahar Hossain, Secretary-Climate Change Journalist Forum, Mrinal Kanti of Bangladesh Indigenous People Network on Climate Change and Badrul Alam of Bangladesh agriculture federation has spoken in the event favor of the demands.

Presenting the key demand, Syed Aminul Hoque said, this is good that government is preparing report on climate finance but observation showing on 2018-19 proposed budget for climate finance amount BDT 18,948 crore (8.82% of proposed budget) in fact color coating of climate finance on traditional development expenditure those done in previous. Following this observation, the group made four recommendation for 2018-19 new budget those are (i) Government must ensure new and additional budget as climate finance out of traditional allocation (ii) Separate between growth orient infrastructure and climate fighting infrastructure and will make allocation accordingly to save climate vulnerable people (iii) Expedite the preparation of NAP-National Adaptation Plan with mass participation and ensure budget for required adaptation finance, (iv) Ensure transparency and accountability of climate finance along with BCCTF-Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund.

Mr. Quamrul Islam said that the proposed climate finance is inadequate to fight climate change impact. Apart govt. suffering lack of capacity of her NIEs (National Implementing Entities) to influence the global climate financing process. He recommended to build up NIEs capacity to mobilize additional global finance that ease govt. to more support on climate finance.

Mr. Rezaul Karim opined, that government should follow her own climate change strategy plan, identify the climate hot spots for appropriate climate action and allocate budget accordingly through setting priority to develop specific climate resilient infrastructure.

Mr. Badrul Alam said that implementing climate finance activities under “Trust Fund” is questionable to mass as this has hardly impact in climate change arena. Even this year government didn’t allocate money for this fund which is a setback for implementing climate change action plans. He demand to engage the mass with the process, implementation and monitoring of trust fund. Motahar Hossain said cyclone SIDR and Aila has damaged major part of coastal embankments those we need to construct with new high to face tidal surge. Apart salinity is a new problem looming cause of mass displacement. Government should importance these issues and increase budgetary allocation.
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Today 13 June 2018, twenty right based civil society networking organizations coordinated by EquityBD has organized a human chain in front of national press club and urged government to emphasize Income Tax instead VAT (Value Added Tax) for revenue mobilization and implementing 2018-19 national budget. They also raised voice on inefficiency of bank sector and demanded to strengthen Central Bank to stop loop holes in capital flight and ensure governance in financial Sector.

The human chain is moderated by Mostafa Kamal Akand-Networking Coordinator of EquityBD and key demand is read out by Md. Ahsanul Karim of same organization. Among others Mr. BadrulAlam from Bangladesh agriculture federation, Mr. Jayed Iqbal Khan, Syed Aminul Hoque from COAST Trust and Mr. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury from EquityBD spoke in the event.

Md. Ahsanul Karim from the group has drawn the following recommendations these are (1) To increase corporate tax as direct tax rather than VAT as indirect tax and also to increase the minimum tax free income from 2,50,000 to 3,50,000 (2) Strengthen Central Bank to establish governance in Financial Sector (3) Establishing central bank control over the banks and forming a strong bank commission to save people money (4) all transaction which is more than $2000 must be through bank transfer and with TIN, (5) publication of white papers of Bangladeshi’s in Malaysia 2nd Home Program, (6) publication of white papers and report on stock exchange debacle, plundering of money from public banks, and Bangladesh Bank money heist and all above (7) shunning the path of confrontational politics and space to the free growth of democratic institutions, so that people and business man will feel sense of security and they will not try for illicit flow.

Syed Aminul Hoque from EquityBD said that revised VAT slab will increase VAT rate and increase burden for poor because they are enjoy these lower slab of VAT. Government failed collect income tax from trade and big economic activities, that’s why mounting on poor for revenue which injustice.

M Rezaul Karim Chowdhury from Equity BD said that Finance minister did not keep his commitment in respect of establishing a neutral and a strong bank commission which will assist the bank owners to plunder more public money from banks. He also said that due to reduce bank corporate tax of 2.5%, Govt. will lose about Tk.100 crore as extra revenue which will indeed make the bank owners more rich.

Md. Badrul Alam of Krishak Federation said that Government has reimbursed more than 10,000crore of as capital refilling from 2006 to 2017 to the state running banks who are suffering from capital deficits because of corruption mostly done by the different companies (Hallmarks, Mismilla Group, Crescent Leather, etc) and supported by politically appointed directors of those banks. The supported money most collecting from hard earn people as tax.

Kader Hajari of Arpan said that Govt. is heavily relying on VAT collection which is 33.7% excess target than FY 2017-18. He also mentioned that Govt. has emphasis to collect income tax from individuals rather than corporate. It is about 58.4% excess target set out for individual income tax where the corporate ta is 15.9% than the FY 2017-18. The government has not enhanced tax free income level and it will create extra burden for middle income earn people and the poor.
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Dhaka, 11 June 2018.Today in a press conference 12 local and national farmers’ organization expressed their frustration over the inadequate allocation for the agriculture in the proposed national budget for the year of 2018-19. Today from a press conference organized in the National Press Club the organizers also demanded visionary and Specific Allocation to Face the Long-Term Challenges Towards Achieving the Food Security Demanded.

The press conference titled ‘Only 2.99% allocation for the sector with 46% of labour force is really not appropriate: We Demand specific allocation and initiative to solve recent and long term crisis of the farmers of Bangladesh’ was jointly organized by Coastal Farmers’ Association, Bangladesh Fish Workers Alliance, Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation, National Women Farmers and Workers Association, Bangladesh Adibashi Samity, Haor Farmers and Fishers Alliance, Gram Labour Resource Centre, Nolchira Pani Unnayan Somity, Dighon CIG, Kendriyo Krishak Moitree, Bangladesh Farmers’ Forum and COAST Trust.

The press conference was moderated by Mustafa Kamal Akand of COAST Trust and Md. Mujibul Haque Munir, Secretariat Coordinator of Bangladesh Farmers Forum presented the key positions of the group. Among others Abdul Majid, secretary of Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation, Md. Shahabuddin, Secereaty of Secretary of Coastal Farmers Association, Samsuzzaman Khokon, Chief of the Gram Unnayan Sanagstha and Syed Aminul Haque, Secetary of EquityBD also spoke at the occasion.

Md. Mujibul Haque Munir said, the allocation for agriculture proves that, the proposed budget clearly does’t pay proper attention to the agriculture sector. Though the total budget has been increased by about 16%, the allocation for the ministry of agriculture has been decreased by 0.41%! In the Annual Development Plan the allocation for the ministry is only 1.1%, while about 46% of the total labour force is engaged with important sector. Agriculture sector is already experiencing negative impact of climate change, our agricultural land is decreasing by 1% each year, due rapid urbanization we are also losing land, food deficit is increasing- these challenges are going to create serious threats for Bangladesh in achieving food security, budget allocation must keep those challenges in mind, special allocation is needed to enhance our capacity to face these challenges in future. Unfortunately, the proposed budget doesn’t not seem to consider those.

Syed Aminul Haque said, by 2050 demand for food crops will be increased by 30%, but we are experiencing bellow 1 percent crop production growth during last three years. If this trend is going on, Bangladesh will be in serious threat regarding the food security, In the proposed budget there in reflection of preparation for such crisis.

Abdul Majid said, excise duty has been increased to 28% in rice import, but this will not bring any benefit for the farmers, as they have already sold their production. This initiative will benefit the middlemen. Rice collection time must be reconsidered so that marginalised farmers can be benefited.

Saiduzzaman Khokon said, farmers are not getting just price of their products, our demand was a Price Commission, the budget once again has ignored that demand.

Md. Shahabuddin said, in 2017-18 allocation for agriculture subsidy was 9000 crore taka, but 3000 crore taka was not spent. We demand to increase the allocation for subsidy as well as the proper utilization of the allocation. in many cases agriculture subsidy is going to wrong hands, who are not involved with agriculture. This has to be changed.

Mothahar Hossain said, just price of the farmers production must be ensured. Special attecntion in regard in the budget is needed.
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Dhaka, 24 May 2018.Today in a press conference 12 local and national farmers’ organization strongly recommended special allocation in the upcoming budget to build permanent embankment to save coastal agricultural land. From a press conference organized today in the National Press Club, they also demanded National price commission to ensure just price of their agricultural products. The press conference titled ‘We Demand Fair Price Commission for Agriculture Production: Permanent Embankment is Must to Save Coastal Agricultural Land’ was jointly organized by Coastal Farmers’ Association, Bangladesh Fish Workers Alliance, Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation, National Women Farmers Association, Bangladesh Adibashi Samity, Haor Farmers and Fishers Alliance, Gram Labour Resource Centre, Nolchira Pani Unnayan Somity, Dighon CIG, Kendriyo Krishak Moitree, Bangladesh Farmers’ Forum and COAST Trust.

The press conference was moderated by Mustafa Kamal Akand of COAST Trust and Md. Mujibul Haque Munir, Secretariat Coordinator of Bangladesh Farmers Forum presented the key positions of the group. Among others Abdul Majid, secretary of Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation, Md. Shahabuddin, Secereaty of Coastal Farmers Association, Samsuzzaman Khokon, Chief of the Gram Unnayan Sanagstha also spoke at the occasion.

Md. Mujibul Haque Munir said, 46% of our labour resource are engaged with the agriculture sector, our food security depends on this sector, so at least 20% of total national budget should be allocated for agriculture sector. But even though the size of the national budget is increasing every year, budget for agriculture sector is not increasing proportionately. The national budget of 2017-18 was increased about 30% compared to the budget of 2016-17, but allocation for agriculture was reduced by 0.81%. In the budget of fiscal year 2016-17, allocation for agriculture was 4.01% of the total budget, but in 2017-18 it was reduced to 3.4%. In the Annual Development Plan allocation for the Ministry of Agriculture was only 1.2% of total ADP! One big change in this trend must take place to save out farmers and to save our agriculture.

Abdul Majid said, farmers must control the seed, they must have the seed sovereignty. We have to reduce our dependency on multinational seed companies. We can easily do to that we can make Bangladesh seed sufficient by ensuring capacity building if the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Centre (BADC). We demand special allocation for this public institution.

Md. Shahabuddin said, farmers of Bhola had to spent about 600 taka to produce each 100 Kgs of rice, but the price was just 400 to 450! ensure just price of the farmers’ product, we need to reform the current paddy collection system of the government. Farmers have to sell their rice as soon as they get it from the field, government must start the collection considering that time. But, the process usually starts at a time when farmers already sell their product. Thus, the middlemen are getting the benefits of the government process. We demand national price commission which will supervise the overall process and will ensure just price.

Saiduzzaman Khokon said, in many cases agriculture subsidy is going to wrong hands, who are not involved with agriculture. This has to be changed. In all budget and plan of agriculture participation of farmers must be ensured.

Mustafa Kamal Akanda said, each year we are losing 1% of our agricultural land, about 1 million people are becoming homeless due to river erosion. We demand social allocation to build permanent embankment to save the coastal agricultural land.

The organizers also demanded special initiatives to enhance the jute production, to restrict use of GMO seeds, and control use of agricultural land for other purposes.
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Geneva, 17th March. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury Co-Chair of CCNF (Cox’s Bazar CSO NGO Forum) and Executive Director of COAST in Geneva observed the JRP lunching in UN building in Geneva. JRP sought $950 million for the period of March to December 2018. UNHCR chief Phillip Grandi moderated the session and was attended by Bangladesh State Minister Shahrier Alam, UN Resident Coordinator (RC) from Dhaka Mia Seppo and Bangladesh Red Crescent Society Secretary General Feroz Salah Uddin. They have spoken on the occasion.
State Minister Shahrier Alam M.P repeatedly urged for international community support for political solution of the crisis i.e. repatriation. He expressed his frustration while Bangladesh given the name of 8000, Myanmar government only cleared around 300 names. He also said that how government invested huge amount of officials for refugee management and preparing Bashanchar for relocating at least 100 thousand refuges. He said that this is sort of huge load upon already resource constrained Bangladesh economy.
UNRC mentioned that civil society participation in the JRP has been ensured and localization will be further integrated.
Ambassador Swing of IoM said that, present rate of depleting forest for firewood collection then by the end of 2019 all forest land of Cox’s Bazar will be wither away.
UNHCR chief Phillip Grandi said that there are two pillars of this JRP, the host community and the Rohigya refugees, he also said that it is already a pressure on low development performing district Cox’s Bazar. Almost all the delegates praise the government of Bangladesh for its generosity on hosting this nearly 1 million Rohingyas.
There were critical questions from the floor, from different country delegates including is this not highly ambitious in respect of fund raising? They expressed doubt on whether the target will be fulfilled. There are also question raised, who will lead this relief operation and ensure the quality of coordination?
Before of the lunching, Rezaul Karim Chowdhury ( Executive Director – COAST Trust ) has chaired a NGO session in the conference room of ICVA (International Council of Voluntary Association) on a session on presenting findings of two recent review of Rohingya relief activities. He reiterated the fact that there are fierce competition of visibility from INGOs and UN agencies, in fact which has grossly undermined their commitment toward Grand Bargain principles and the operation has little accountability to the local authority and with little involvement of local NGOs.
The coordination system culture of ISCG (Inter Sectorial Coordination Group) itself has a lot of limitation in this regard, which needed to be overhauled. He clearly mentioned, if there are no clear pathway and integration of reducing transaction cost, accountability to the local authority and their participation and partnering to the local organization, the whole refugee relief will become a burden for local community and of the government in future.
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