- Over the past 15 years, the nation has introduced 699 climate-resilient, advanced, and high-yielding crop varieties
- Between the years 2010 and 2023, approximately 130,000 units of agricultural machinery, encompassing combine harvesters, reapers, seeders, and power tillers, have been distributed
- With the overarching objective of ensuring universal access to food, the Awami League is steadfast in its commitment to ‘Food for All.’
- The interest rate on agricultural loans will persist at 4%, and commercial banks will provide refinancing at a rate of 0.5%
As Bangladesh tills the fields of progress, agriculture emerges as the stalwart force steering economic prosperity and livelihood sustainability. Beyond satiating the nation’s hunger pangs, it cultivates employment in rural landscapes, fortifies industrial raw material production, and contributes substantially to the national coffers, casting agriculture as the linchpin of Bangladesh’s holistic development.
The Awami League has recently unveiled its long-anticipated manifesto titled ‘Smart Bangladesh: Unnoyon Drisshoman, Barbe Ebar Kormoshongsthan.’ Within this comprehensive document, 11 sectors have been accorded top priorities, with the agricultural sector securing the notable position of fourth in the list of prioritized areas.
Under the current leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, at the helm of the Awami League government, agriculture maintains its paramount status in national governance. Through a series of progressive initiatives, the government actively pursues agricultural development, prioritizing the welfare of farmers and spearheading an agricultural revolution geared towards sustained growth and food self-sufficiency.
A Decade and a Half of Agricultural Development
Having attained self-sufficiency in food grain production, the trajectory of growth in production remains consistent. In the fiscal year 2022-23, rice production achieved a groundbreaking milestone, totaling 4 crores 15 lahks 69 thousand metric tons, surpassing the previous record established in 2008-09 when the aggregate food grain (rice, wheat, and maize) production reached 3 crore 28 lakhs 96 thousand metric tons. In the fiscal year 2022-23, this figure has ascended to an impressive 4 crore 66 lakhs 88 thousand metric tons.
Globally, Bangladesh has secured the third position in rice production, the third in vegetable and onion production, the second in jute production, the fourth in overall food grain production, and the seventh in potato and mango production.
Farmers are being incentivized to diversify their crops, cultivating unconventional varieties such as coffee, cashew nuts, bell peppers, and dragon fruits. In the fiscal year 2022-23, the country witnessed the production of approximately 1 crore 50 lakhs metric tons of fruits. The acceptance rate of tropical fruits has risen from 55 grams in 2006 to 85 grams in 2020.
Over the past 15 years, the nation has introduced 699 climate-resilient, advanced, and high-yielding crop varieties, along with nearly 708 technologies applicable in 699 challenging environments.
Concerted efforts have been made to ensure effective governance in the distribution of fertilizers, seeds, pesticides, and other agricultural inputs. The cost of these inputs has been diminished, facilitating efficient outreach to farmers. To maintain low production costs for farmers, the government has disbursed subsidies exceeding 1.29 trillion taka in the realms of fertilizers, electricity, and irrigation from 2009 to 2020.
Rice Production Milestone (FY 2022-23):
- Previous Record (2008-09): 3.28 crore metric tons
- Current Achievement: 4.66 crore metric tons
Global Rankings in Production:
- Rice, Vegetable and Onion: 3rd position
- Jute: 2nd position
- Overall Food Grain: 4th position
- Potato and Mango: 7th position
Diversification Incentives and Fruit Production (FY 2022-23):
- Fruits Produced: 1.5 crore metric tons
- Acceptance Rate Increase: From 55g (2006) to 85g (2020)
15 Years of Agricultural Advancements:
- Crop Varieties Introduced: 699
- Technologies for Challenging Environments: 708
Government Subsidies (2009-2020):
- Total Disbursed: Exceeding 1.29 trillion taka
- Areas: Fertilizers, Electricity, Irrigation
Investment in integrated agriculture, mechanization, and process optimization to achieve profitable farming
Substantial subsidies ranging between 50% and 70% are being extended to farmers for the acquisition of agricultural machinery, enabling them to procure these essential tools at reduced costs.
Between the years 2010 and 2023, approximately 130,000 units of agricultural machinery, encompassing combine harvesters, reapers, seeders, and power tillers, have been distributed. The ongoing implementation of agricultural mechanization projects, with a dedicated budget of three billion taka, signifies a concerted effort to propel this transformative initiative.
To facilitate the expansion of commercial agriculture, high-value cash crops are being cultivated. This cultivation extends into non-arable lands, hills, haors, the baor region, and other challenging terrains.
The strategic utilization of water resources, harnessing solar energy, and the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices are collectively fostering the development of an eco-friendly agricultural landscape.
The country’s agricultural paradigm is undergoing a noteworthy shift from traditional ‘subsistence farming’ to a more dynamic ‘commercial agriculture’ model. The focus is squarely on establishing a sustainable agricultural framework, characterized by prudent water resource management, solar power, and the adoption of optimal agricultural practices.
Awami-League’s Aspirations as Stated in the Manifesto
With the overarching objective of ensuring universal access to food, the Awami League is steadfast in its commitment to ‘Food for All.’ There is a dedicated focus on adopting advanced development techniques, with key goals including meeting the nutritional needs of the expanding population, ensuring access to nutritionally approved food, fostering commercial agriculture, expanding agro-industries, developing rural infrastructure, increasing the production and distribution of agricultural and non-agricultural products, and mitigating poverty through diversification.
To support these objectives, there will be an increase in the annual budget allocation, coupled with encouragement for private investment in rural sectors. The interest rate on agricultural loans will persist at 4%, and commercial banks will provide refinancing at a rate of 0.5%, incentivizing them to further facilitate agricultural loans.
With a significant population of approximately 154.81 million small farmers dependent on agriculture, efforts will be directed to preserve their unique assets for investment in agricultural inputs, ensuring continuous assistance and support for agriculture and production.
The Awami League has implemented a policy aimed at cultivating all available land to boost agricultural production, leaving no land fallow. Initiatives will focus on making agricultural machinery easily accessible and affordable to address labor shortages and enhance productivity, with unchanged subsidy provisions.
Emphasis will be placed on integrated agricultural management, coupled with the development and expansion of commercial agriculture, biotechnology, genetic engineering, robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and sustainable practices in non-agricultural fields. Modernization of agriculture, technological innovation, and a strong focus on agricultural research are deemed of paramount importance in achieving the goal of increased agricultural production.
Environmental protection considerations will be integrated into the use of various products in agriculture. Initiatives will be undertaken to establish suitable cold storage and processing facilities at the local level.
Special efforts will be dedicated to creating a skilled supply chain and value chain in agricultural products, with continuous support. Initiatives will aim to extend the age limit for successful and competent agricultural scientists, ensuring the effective utilization of acquired skills in global competition.
In the context of globalization, the emphasis will be on safeguarding Bangladesh’s agriculture and farmers’ interests, coupled with the adoption of globally competitive skills. Simultaneously, there will be a focus on maximizing the opportunities created by globalization.
The fields are ripe, the seeds of progress sown—the Awami League’s vision for agricultural brilliance promises a bountiful harvest for Bangladesh’s future.