Water management experts have disparaged as “a drop in the ocean” an agreement between Bangladesh and India to share water from the Kushiara River, a minor waterway out of the 54 that flows between both countries.
In a recent visit to India, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina signed a memorandum of understanding with her Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, in which both governments agreed to withdraw the equivalent of 4.3 cubic meters (153 cubic feet) per second of water from the Kushiara during the off-monsoon season from November to May.
“Bangladesh will irrigate 5,000 hectares [12,400 acres] of arable land with this water,” said Malik Fida A. Khan, a member of the Joint Rivers Commission (JRC), a technical body that advises the Bangladesh government on the management of transboundary rivers and water.
Transboundary water experts in Bangladesh, however, say the new agreement is a “drop in the ocean.” They expressed frustration that India, sitting upriver, is unwilling to consider the interests of downstream Bangladesh when it comes to sharing water from the major rivers flowing from the Himalayas down to the Bay of Bengal.
Bangladesh is an active delta formed by sediments carried through the rivers flowing from the Himalayas. The two neighboring countries share at least 54 such rivers, according to the JRC, the most prominent among them being the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. Agriculture, navigation, inland fisheries, and keeping saltwater intrusion at bay are all heavily dependent on the flow of water of these rivers.
Bangladesh to Establish Int. Laboratory for Agricultural Certification
Agriculture Secretary Wahida Akter announced plans to establish an international laboratory in Bangladesh to issue accredited certificates, supporting the roadmap for exporting agricultural products. The country is also developing a world-class packaging system and training around 200,000 farmers to produce commodities meeting global demands.
Expressing optimism, Akter anticipates Bangladesh’s capacity to export agricultural products to all countries within the next two years. She addressed these initiatives at a workshop titled “Export of Agro Products: Challenges and Way Forward” at the Bangladesh Agriculture Research Council.
While acknowledging global praise for Bangladesh’s agricultural products, Akter stressed the need to enhance exports and reduce production costs. The Ministry of Agriculture has launched a dedicated export desk to expand the export of agricultural products.
Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Fisheries and Livestock Secretary Dr Nahid Rashid, and other officials discussed the challenges and opportunities for agricultural exports. Ghosh emphasized the importance of private sector investment in agri-processed industries and urged entrepreneurs to contribute to the agricultural sector’s growth.
In summary, Bangladesh is proactively taking steps to strengthen its position in the global agricultural market by focusing on certification, packaging, and training, with a vision to boost exports in the coming years.
Govt Approves Procurement of 90,000 Metric Tons of Fertilizer, 1.10cr Liters of Soybean Oil
During the 39th meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase (CCGP), the government approved several crucial proposals. This includes the procurement of 90,000 metric tons of fertilizer and 1.10 crore liters of soybean oil, aiming to meet the rising demand in the country.
Two separate proposals were also given the green light for fixing the power tariff for two power plants. The state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) will be responsible for procuring soybean oil from Green Nation Builders & Developers in India. Cabinet Division additional secretary, Sayeed Mahbub Khan, shared details on the approved power tariffs. This includes the 11 MW waste-based power plant in Brahmanbaria and the 100MW AC solar-based power plant in Sonagazi.
Furthermore, the Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) received approval for the procurement of urea fertilizer. The BCIC will acquire consignments from Muntajat in Qatar, KAFCO in Bangladesh, and SABIC Agri Nutrients Company in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, the CCGP meeting greenlit a road project involving the upgrading of the Aricha-Gheor-Doulatpur-Nagarpur-Tangail regional highway.
In a separate meeting, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs convened and approved the maintenance of the import agreement for non-urea fertilizer from six countries. These include Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, Canada, Russia, and Belarus. The government will also initiate the procurement of non-urea fertilizer (TSP, DAP, MoP) from three more countries: China, Malaysia, and Jordan.
Vegetable Prices in Dhaka Markets Witness Significant Decline
The prices of most vegetables in various markets in the city are on a declining trend due to abundant supplies of early winter vegetables in the country over the past two weeks.
Prices of various vegetables, including beans, eggplants, radishes, cucurbits, yard-long beans, cauliflower, cabbage, papaya, okra, bitter gourd, bottle gourd, sweet gourd, and green chili, have seen a decrease of Tk 20-30 compared to their prices two weeks ago.
“Two weeks ago, vegetable prices reached a maximum of Tk 80-120 per kilogram in the city markets, but they have been significantly declining since then,” said Mohammad Shahadat Hossain, a vegetable retailer at Hazrat Shah Ali kitchen market, Mirpur-1.
“Vegetables like beans, eggplants, yard-long beans, and bitter gourds are now being sold at Tk 60-80 per kilogram, whereas they were Tk 80-120 two weeks ago,” said Md. Jewel, a retailer at Karwan Bazar, a hub for vegetables.
Retailer Taiyab expressed hope that vegetable prices would continue to decrease over the next two weeks, especially after a 100% arrival of vegetables in the city’s kitchen markets.
The prices of bundles of green leafy vegetables, including spinach, water spinach, and Malabar spinach, have also seen a 50% decrease compared to their previous prices.
However, the prices of newly-harvested potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots remain relatively high, ranging from Tk 120-140 per kilogram.
One resident, Mohammad Khalil, attributed the decline in vegetable prices to the sufficient supply of winter vegetables.
While prices are decreasing, advocate Mahmudul Hasan from Judge Court, Dhaka, suggested that the government should properly monitor prices, as they can vary from market to market.
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