Md. Arafat Rahman
Bangladesh is an agricultural country. Agriculture and farmers are the backbones of Bangladesh’s economy since the liberation war of 1971. The farmers were in the front row and their contribution is undeniable. The Constitution of Bangladesh has identified one of the duties of the state to take effective measures for agricultural revolution, to improve the nutritional status of the people, and to improve public health.
Agriculture is closely associated with the life and livelihood of the people of Bangladesh. The economic development of this country is not possible without agriculture. Proper planning is essential for the overall development of the agricultural sector. It has an important role to play in increasing productivity and income and creating employment in rural areas for the prosperity of the country’s large population. The agricultural sector makes a significant contribution to the country’s GDP, providing employment to about half of the workforce and providing the main raw material for agro-based industries.
Agriculture is a special area closely linked to important issues such as ensuring food and nutrition for the people, creating income opportunities, and reducing poverty. In addition, agriculture is a source of a wide variety of consumer goods, especially in rural areas. Therefore, to reduce rural poverty, it is essential to develop the agricultural sector and accelerate its growth.
Agriculture is a combination of crops, fisheries, livestock, and forest sub-sectors. In this context, the Agriculture Policy has been formulated by the Ministry of Agriculture to take and conduct proper development.
Issues related to research, extension, seeds, fertilizers, micro-irrigation, marketing systems, and human resource development for crop production have been given priority as expected in this policy. The crop sector plays a very important role in the agriculture of Bangladesh and is of utmost importance in various agricultural programs of the government. The amount of agricultural land in the country is declining at a rate of about 1% per annum and soil quality and fertility are declining as a result of soil erosion and the increasing salinity in the soil.
Diversification of agriculture is needed to increase the production of food for the growing population and the supply of raw materials to the agro-industry. In line with the Millennium Development Goals, the objective of the Government of Bangladesh is to bring the population living below the poverty line below 50 percent. The “Perspective Plan (2010-2021)” is designed to maintain a reliable economic structure in the country. It also emphasizes rapid economic growth in rural areas, agricultural development, and the development of non-agricultural economic activities related to rural agriculture.
To achieve higher growth in GDP, the annual growth in the agricultural sector must be similarly increased. Higher agricultural GDP growth can be achieved through the application of modern agricultural technologies and connecting farmers’ supply chains with consumers in the national and international markets to increase agricultural productivity. This will reduce poverty in the country as well as improve the living standards of the farmers.
The role of small farms is more in the agricultural sector. Agriculture has a huge impact on the economic development and livelihood of the people. In order to reduce the poverty and improve the living standards of the rural population, it is essential to make the existing agricultural production system more dynamic and to introduce a sustainable commercial agricultural production system. Combined efficient and effective agricultural technology management of agricultural research and extension is required for sustainable agricultural interaction and diversification through technological change.
In this case, proper value addition and proper market management assistance are required. It is vital to maintain the supply of skilled human resources including productivity, resource utilization skills, use of up-to-date technology, and research and testing facilities, In order to sustain knowledge-intensive agriculture. More scientific and technical support is needed for agriculture in Bangladesh. In today’s multidimensional national and economic environment, there is a need to increase the effectiveness of government expenditure in agricultural research and extension management.
The first national agricultural policy was adopted in April 1999. Over time some important issues arise and in some cases, new dimensions are added. In the context of declining agricultural resources and biodiversity, climate change, increasing the level and severity of natural disasters, high food prices, etc., the agriculture sector needs to be empowered to meet these challenges. In the context of the current agro-economic situation, it has become necessary to update the existing agricultural policy.
The specific objectives of the National Agricultural Policy 2013 are to ensure a sustainable and profitable agricultural production system, innovation and expansion of improved crop varieties and cultivation technology through research and training, building a self-reliant agricultural system capable of meeting the needs of farmers adapting to climate change, increasing productivity, creating employment and income opportunities, introducing competitive agriculture through commercialization, ensuring fair prices of agricultural products, increasing opportunities for export of agricultural products, creating new agro-based industries and meeting nutritional needs of the people.
Capabilities in the agricultural sector of Bangladesh are: generally favorable year-round agro-climate for crop production, research-extension methods for technology innovation, technology transfer and expansion at farm level, scientific and trained manpower for agricultural research and development, appropriate technology for major crop production, nationwide agricultural materials supply network, adequate manpower for agricultural activities, biodiversity of different crops, water availability, Government financial aid, agricultural management monitoring, guidelines for the use of land and soil resources in different agricultural areas, traditional and experienced knowledge of farmers and agricultural subsidy cards and farmer bank accounts.
Ensuring the availability of new technologies is essential to increasing farm productivity and farmer income. The government considers agricultural expansion as a service-providing system that will provide farmers with new technologies, improved farm methods, and techniques, including information and advice on appropriate technical and farm management. As an agrarian country, Bangladesh needs a huge pool of skilled agricultural workers and educated & trained human resources to reduce the gap between farmers’ grain production capacity and the needs of the people and ensure their food security.
Proper implementation of the National Agricultural Policy will accelerate the process of crop production, which in turn will make agriculture a dynamic sector that is expected to bring about a positive change in the economy of the country. If farmers, researchers, scientists, agribusinesses, government officials, and politicians all make successful contributions in their respective fields to the implementation of the National Agricultural Policy, the development goals and perspective planning goals will be achieved through this process.
Author is a Columnist & Asst. Officer
Career & Professional Development Services Department; Southeast University