The expected profit of the Boro Farmers have dropped 40 percent due to COVID-19 pandemic, said a survey conducted by Brac University.
The Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) under the Brac University conducted a rapid survey with 2,834-farm households – the findings of which were presented in a webinar on Monday.The agriculture sector, which is the largest industry in Bangladesh in terms of share of employment, will play a crucial role in the post-pandemic recovery of our economy, said the survey.
The Boro rice crop in particular, for which about 60 percent of the total cultivated land area of our country is allocated, is of strategic importance, especially since the harvest season of this crop coincided with the pandemic crisis in our country.
Therefore, a deep dive into the impact of the COVID-19 situation on the agriculture sector is a much-needed assessment to understand the extent to which Bangladesh has been affected by the pandemic, it said.
Respondents reported facing many challenges during the pandemic, such as labour shortage, transportation disruptions, and financial constraints. Boro yield this year is comparable to the yield last year; however, because of these difficulties, farmers have experienced a seven percent (equivalent to four mounds per acre) loss in production volume -relative to how much the volume would have been if the situation were normal.
Farmers also experienced a thirteen percent rise in production costs and a seventeen percent increase in labour cost. Consequently, their expected profit declined by 40 percent.
Nationally, it translates to 4.82 crore mounds of loss in comparison to expected Boro production, which amounts to approximately Tk 36.87 billion, it said.Around 99 percent of surveyed farmers had to sell paddy below the government-mandated price of Tk 1,040 per mound.
“On average, the surveyed farmers sold paddy at Tk 765 per mound. Around 80 percent of the farmers who sold at prices higher than Tk 900 per mound were satisfied with the price they received. Therefore, we need to draw the attention of policymakers towards ensuring that farmers can get the fair price,” said Dr Narayan Das, Senior Research Fellow, BIGD, who presented the findings of the study.
The study – led by Dr Narayan Das, Md Saiful Islam, Research Associate, and Semab Rahman, Research Associate at BIGD – was conducted through a nationwide phone survey in order to understand the impact of COVID-19 on production, costs and profits of Boro Rice farmers of Bangladesh, to analyse the challenges they faced and to recommend appropriate measures to support them.
Also present in the discussion as panelists were Prof Dr MA Sattar Mandal, Former Vice- Chancellor of Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh; Sudhir Chandra Nath, Business Director-ACI Seed, Advanced Chemical Industries Limited; Md Nasiruzzaman, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Former Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan.
Dr Imran Matin, Executive Director of BIGD, concluded the session by highlighting the importance of database maintenance and data governance – not only in agriculture, but also in the areas of health and social protection.
“We should also focus on establishing an efficient delivery mechanism for the government's credit program - this area needs a lot of work, and it needs to be addressed very quickly to tackle last mile delivery challenges for support mechanisms.”