Agriculture sector now needs to be more mechanised and commercialised to reap more benefits from it and its recent development, said Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque.
The minister said, “Agriculture is still an important area for the country for its contribution to food security even though its share in GDP fell to 12 percent which was 60 percent earlier.”
“To fulfill the dream of Bangabandhu, we’ve to go for mechanisation and commercialization of agriculture. The process has already started, but it needs to be expedited,” Dr Razzaque stressed, drawing examples from some other countries.
He said before and after the 1970 national polls, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujubir Rahman had repeatedly spoken of bringing about a revolution in agriculture.
He said Bangabandhu had an expectation that agriculture would be the second highest export earning sector.
“For this to happen, the country has to go for the processed agro foods through commercialization of agriculture and involving scientists and skilled people,” Dr. Razzaque observed.
He thinks that Bangladesh must achieve food security so that it doesn’t fall in the trap of big powers in any crisis moment like that happened immediately after the Liberation War. “The US still uses food as arms,” he alleged.
Echoing the agriculture minister, Planning Minister MA Mannan said: “By not having food security, we let other supplying countries hold us hostage to them.”
“The country’s food production has risen four times against two times increase in population since 1972, as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has successfully created superstructure on the infrastructure built by her father,” he added.
Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim attributed the agricultural sector success in Bangladesh to better use of farmland, “although the volume of arable land has declined.”
He claimed that none in South Asia has given more focus on agriculture than Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
“Bangladesh can earn a lot of forex from the fisheries sector by exporting kuchia and crab,” he observed.
“Fisheries and livestock sector is playing a key role in resolving unemployment problem amid the coronavirus pandemic as many people are becoming entrepreneurs in the sector,” SM Rezaul Karim said. Alongside agriculture, Bangladesh has to put emphasis on improving small industries, diversifying economy, employment and poverty reduction for sustainable development, said Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) chairman Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad.
Apart from focusing on enhancing production only, the government has to ensure fair price for the farmers, he suggested.
“Economy, society and environment—all have to be advanced simultaneously.”
The noted economist also put emphasis on enhancing tax-GDP ratio with an observation that “the rate of becoming rich in Bangladesh is the highest in the world.”
Director General of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) Dr Binayak Sen observed that the number of mixed household, involved in farm and non-farm activities at a time, is rising in the country.
“Besides, an increase in income level of people has led to a hike in demand for agricultural products in the country,” the researcher stated.
State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam also addressed the seminar, where General Economics Division (GED) member Md Mofidul Islam presented the keynote paper.