Workshop held on Agriculture Budget of Bangladesh

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Workshop held on Agriculture Budget of Bangladesh

B Mirror Desk:

Bangladesh, with only 0.1% of the world’s arable land, feeds 2.7% of the global population. The country has transformed from a ‘Basket Case’ to a ‘Food Basket’ through substantial investments in the agriculture sector, which now contributes 11.20% to the GDP and employs 47.5% of the labor force. To achieve its goal of becoming a developed nation by 2041, Bangladesh recognizes agriculture as a critical sector. However, there are some challenges which need to be addressed to achieve the target.

The workshop discussed key constraints and areas of investment in shaping the agricultural sector’s development. It emphasized a paradigm shift from rice-centered food security to market- driven agriculture for sustainable production. One critical concern is linking millions of small-scale, resource-poor farmers to markets and establishing an efficient supply chain to maximize benefits from public sector investments. Additionally, transitioning from intensive irrigated rice production to less water-demanding crops is essential.
The sector faces significant challenges, including declining productivity, land degradation, and shrinking farm incomes. Factors such as knowledge-intensive technologies, input inefficiencies, climate risks, globalization impacts, fragmented land holdings, market inefficiencies, and agri-waste contribute to these challenges.

Moreover, limited non-farm employment opportunities exacerbate the situation. In Bangladesh, 72% of cultivated areas are dedicated to rice production, but yields per unit area are gradually declining due to intensive cultivation, impact of climate change and genetic erosion. Recent heatwaves significantly affected Boro crop production. To address this, investments in national rice breeding programs are crucial to enhance genetic gains in the coming years.

Investment in preserving and managing land resources for productive agriculture is another priority. Arable land is decreasing, necessitating technology development to maximize output without compromising natural resources.
The average operational holding size in Bangladesh is 0.41 hectares, with a total of 16.88 million farm holdings. Land fragmentation due to population growth has led to declining net cultivated areas per farm. While agricultural labor is decreasing, other sectors like industries and manufacturing offer limited employment opportunities. To mitigate this, Bangladesh should focus on technology adoption, grain efficiency, and explore less land-intensive crops like maize, potatoes, and vegetables during the Rabi season.

The private sector plays a vital role in providing seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, machinery, and market- driven technologies. Effective regulations are essential to balance private sector contributions while safeguarding consumer interests, public health, and the environment.
Moving forward, relying solely on rice self-sufficiency for food security is unsustainable. Despite rice surplus, inefficiencies in the supply chain result in an annual loss of 6-7 million tons. Prioritizing supply chain optimization over increased rice production is crucial for sustainable agricultural development. The workshop recommended revisiting traditional rice-growing seasons (Aus and Aman) as the main rice-growing period. Boro rice production should be limited to natural ecosystems (low-lying haor areas and specific upland regions). It is necessary to consider strengthening wheat production in Barind areas. Priority should be given to supply chain efficiency and reduce intermediary influence. ISmall holders and resource poor farmers must be connected to markets.

Our sea resources are under-utilized. Bangladesh has established right over significant amount of areas. Investment should be made to maximize harvesting from the sea resources without degradation of aquatic biodversity.
In case of livestock, subsidies may be increased for feed to reduce the cost of production. Care must be taken to ensure safe production of poultry. Research should be strengthened for management of diseases in all kinds of livestock.

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