Agricultural mechanisation will reduce the cost of production and make farming profitable, in a boost to the farmers in Bangladesh at a time when they are facing rising cost of labour and often struggle to recoup investment, agriculturalists said.
Agriculture Minister Md Abdur Razzaque said true food security does not mean only food for all. “It means to ensure nutritionally balanced, enriched and safe food for all. Mechanisation will help ensure the true food security.”
Anis Ud Dowla, chairman of ACI Group, said farm mechanisation was inevitable due to rising cost of labour.
They were addressing the launching of global agricultural machinery manufacturer Yanmar Agribusiness’ two combine harvesters, AG 600 and YH 150, by the Japanese company and ACI Motors at InterContinental Dhaka on Wednesday.
The marketers say the machines, coming with 70 horsepower engines, hydrostatic transmission systems and crawlers specifically designed for muddy conditions, are capable of harvesting 1.1 acres of cropland in an hour.
It is also suitable where intact straw is not demanded, increasing productivity and income of farmers, they said.
Hiroaki Kitaoka, president of Yanmar Agribusiness, said Bangladesh’s growth was accelerating, so it would need more mechanisation in agriculture.
“We are committed to providing modern technology to farmers. Our vision is not only to give high quality products but also provide a solution to farmers so that their production cost reduces,” he said.
Razzaque said Yanmar’s combine harvester would help reduce labour requirements and bring down the cost of production. “It is a good step for agricultural mechanisation in the country.”
He said farmers, particularly commercial ones, suffer because many of them can not make profit from farming.
In the last boro season, the price of paddy was awfully low and the government took many steps to revive the price, but it went down further, he added.
High cost of production, particularly that of labour, and excess supply of paddy are among the reasons behind the farmers’ misery, the minister said.
The minister said the supply of workers was not as abundant as in the past. But this is not a bad sign for a country whose economic growth is accelerating.
“However, labour scarcity and high cost of labour is a challenge for commercial farming.”
Anis Ud Dowla said the government has set aside Tk 2,000 crore as subsidy for agricultural mechanisation. “So, it is our responsibility to use the subsidy rightly to promote mechanisation and raise agriculture productivity.”
He urged Yanmar to manufacture the products in Bangladesh. Hiroyasu Izumi, Japan’s ambassador to Bangladesh, said Bangladesh has tremendous potential in agricultural mechanisation as it was in a growth phase. “Japan is always ready to help agricultural mechanisation in the country.”
Professor Emeritus MA Sattar Mandal of Mymensingh’s Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) said the government’s subsidy was crucial to introducing the technology as its price was high and farmers have a shortage of capital.
Md Monjurul Alam, a professor of the farm power and machinery department at the BAU, Subrata Ranjan Das, executive director of ACI Motors, Arif Dowla, managing director of ACI Group, and FH Ansarey, managing director of ACI Motors, also spoke.