FILE PHOTO: Two ethnic women collect grass to feed their cattle in rice fields in Naogaon district, Bangladesh. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Rafiqul Islam
Bangladesh has announced a relief package worth about $1.7 billion to help farmers struggling because of restrictions imposed to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Bangladesh has extended its lockdown by 11 days to April 25, a move that could exacerbate the difficulties faced by the country’s hundreds of thousands of rice, fish, dairy, poultry and vegetable farmers.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the relief package, which includes $590 million for cheap farm loans and $1.1 billion for fertilizer subsidies, is designed to help farmers who are struggling to sell their produce during the lockdown.
“Disasters come. We’ll have to face it boldly,” Hasina said. “We want to make sure that our farming sector continues its smooth production.”
Bangladesh has 621 COVID-19 patients and 34 have died due to the disease.
The number of coronavirus cases in the South Asia region crossed 14,500. India, with over 9,000 cases and 308 deaths, was the worst hit.
Concerns are rising that India’s financial hub Mumbai, which accounts for around 1,250 cases, was becoming a hotspot for the coronavirus. Local authorities there are also battling the infection’s rapid spread through its densely populated slum areas.
In Pakistan, authorities expressed alarm at a sharp rise in the coronavirus cases in Karachi, the country’s largest city. The provincial government there has decided to seal 11 densely populated neighbourhoods in Karachi, officials said.