Bangladesh's growth still lowest in South Asia: expert
Although agricultural productivity is growing in Bangladesh, its rate of progress in this regard remains the lowest among nearby countries in South Asia and beyond, according to an analyst.
As per the World Development Indicators (WDI), an index comprising international statistics on global development compiled by the World Bank, Bangladesh's agricultural productivity growth stood at 1 percent in 2021.
Meanwhile, Nepal registered growth of 1.7 percent, Sri Lanka 1.8 percent, Vietnam 1.9 percent, India 2.4 percent and China 3.7 percent.
"The amount of arable land in the country is decreasing by about 1 percent annually in face of urbanisation," said Mohammad Jahangir Alam, a professor of the agribusiness and marketing department at Bangladesh Agricultural University.
"So, there is no way to enhance agricultural productivity without conducting research for developing high-yielding crops," he added.
Alam made these remarks at a seminar on "Transformation of agriculture in Bangladesh: Contribution of Kazi M Badruddoza" at the CIRDAP auditorium in Dhaka.
The event was organised by the Bangladesh Agricultural Journalists Forum (BAJF).
Alam said that globally, Bangladesh is 94th in terms of area under cultivation but 14th in agricultural production, showing that the country has many limitations.
"Bangladesh is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world and it has huge implications for the agriculture sector," he added.
Citing another World Bank report, Alam said Bangladesh stands to lose 4.9 percent of its overall cropland by 2040 but the acreage could increase by 18 percent in coastal areas at the same time.
"We should bring all the arable land under cultivation so that we can produce our own food. Then no global crisis will harm us," he added, pointing to how having the lowest growth will definitely drive the country to increase imports.
Alam informed that 60 percent of the country's imports are currently comprised of cooking oils, cereals and sugars.
So, Bangladesh needs to spend more on research and development in the agriculture sector, he said.
Speakers at the event lauded the contributions made by an eminent agronomist, Kazi M Badruddoza.
"Kazi Badruddoza started the transformation of the agriculture sector in Bangladesh and we are now enjoying the benefits," said Agriculture Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque.
However, the second part of this transformation is now a major challenge.
From planting paddy to refining it, mechanisation is needed.
Besides, all sectors of agriculture should be modernised and commercialised to increase productivity. With this, agricultural processing should be increased to enhance value addition, he added.
Kazi Badruddoza was not only a pioneer of agriculture in Bangladesh as he also contributed to the National Agricultural Master Plan of Vietnam.
Additionally, Razzaque informed that there is no need to import rice this year as agricultural mechanisation has helped Bangladesh produce enough of the cereal grain.
Md Shahjahan Kabir, director general (DG) of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, Debasish Sarker, DG of the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, FH Ansarey, president of ACI Agribusinesses, and Md Hamidur Rahman, former DG of the Department of Agricultural Extension, also spoke at the event.
BAJF President Iftekhar Mahmud chaired the event, which was moderated by BAJF General Sectary Shahanuare Shaid Shahin.