The government plans to conduct an integrated survey on the use of land to help policymakers frame strategies to curb transfer of arable land to non-farm purposes.
"We are losing valuable cultivable land due to construction and other purposes. So it has become vital to get proper data on the land use pattern," said Md Nojibur Rahman, secretary of Statistics and Informatics Division of the planning ministry.
He said the government has taken a decision in principle in this regard in a recent meeting of the Executive Committee on National Economic Council.
The survey is expected to be conducted in the upcoming fiscal year by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
Rahman shared the plan at a programme on in-depth country assessment of agricultural and rural statistics at the BBS office in Dhaka. The national statistical agency and Food and Agricultural Organisation co-organised the event.
Bangladesh lost 13,412 hectares of cropland annually during 1976-2000. The amount of land going out of cultivation soared to 687,000 hectares a year during 2000-2010, according to a study by Soil Resource Development Institute under the agriculture ministry.
Cropland decreased by 0.73 percent annually to stand at 87.51 lakh hectares in 2010 from 94.39 lakh hectares in 2000. Rahman said the survey would be conducted involving various agencies and land surveyors.
Rajiv Mehta, an international consultant of the FAO, said some of the crop statistics here are robust. "Some need to be improved," he said, citing livestock, forestry and fisheries.
He said data on agro processing, commodity prices, food stocks, food balance sheet and environment are not collected or partially collected. Statistics on forestry, trade, pesticides and seeds are generated through administrative processes. Mehta said the methodology of data collection on fisheries, water use, land and rural infrastructure lacks soundness.
He suggested formulation of a strategic plan to improve agricultural and rural statistics and strengthening crop estimation system, including forecasting and monitoring for important crops. He also called for an integrated framework of census and surveys for agriculture and rural sectors covering crops, livestock, fisheries, inland water bodies and such related areas.
Bidhan Baral, project director of Harmonisation and Dissemination of Unified Agricultural Production Statistics at the BBS, said the reliability of rice production estimates has been ensured after adoption of a new methodology.