BBS finally releases Boro output data, nearly to no avail
The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) last week finally made public its estimate of the amount of Boro season paddy produced in the country last year, which sadly will come to little effect as farmers will be harvesting this year's crops within a month or so.
Had the data been available prior to the planting of this year's crops, which is from November to February, the government could have better prepared its national production and import strategies to ensure food security.
Rice is a staple food for Bangladesh and Boro paddy accounts for nearly 55 per cent of the country's yearly rice production.
The harvest of Boro paddy runs between April and June, meaning the BBS took over seven months to provide the data.
Furthermore, the report on the estimate bears the signature of the BBS director dated January 16, signifying that he had approved it on that day.
However, the report was found in a part of the BBS website which was last updated on February 16.
This means that apparently it took the BBS one month to upload a report approved by the BBS director.
Availability of credible crop production data on time is vital for proper and timely planning to ensure stability in the market, according to analysts.
The utility of this data is just record-keeping, said Prof Jahangir Alam Khan, an agricultural economist.
It is totally not what is expected from the premier state body for collecting statistics on demographics, he said.
"The BBS should provide the data within one month after harvests end," said Alam.
Anwar Faruque, a former secretary to the agriculture ministry, said the real picture cannot be availed if there are delays in collecting and publishing data.
If the BBS could deliver it timely, like by the end of July or August, the government could have formulated the right strategies for food security, he said.
The government could think about relevant import and export. Even a few months ago, there was a major concern over whether there could be a food crisis, he added.
"Basically, we have two problems—availability of timely data and accurate data," he said.
Last season's (fiscal year 2021-22) Boro output was 2.01 crore tonnes, which increased by 1.5 per cent year-on-year.
The Daily Star has repeatedly tried to contact with Alauddin Al Azad, director of the agriculture wing of the BBS, and Md Motiar Rahman, director general of the BBS, neither received repeated phone calls nor responded to SMS for comment from The Daily Star yesterday.
However, earlier in November, Azad told this newspaper that the data could not be finalised as the director general of the BBS was ill.
"The report is almost complete, and we will release the report when the DG (director general) of the BBS joins office," he said.
According to officials, the BBS collects and processes crop production data manually, which takes up a lot of time.
The bureaucratic system, which involves approvals from high officials and authorities, also causes delays in the release of the data from the national statistical agency.