Bangladesh has made significant progress in agriculture over the past 46 years to achieve food security despite frequent natural disasters, population growth and shrinking of agricultural land.
Bangladesh has tripled its rice production since the independence, from 10 million tonnes in 1971 to over 34 million tonnes now.
Since the independence, the agricultural sector has been benefitting from a sound and consistent policy framework backed by substantial public investments in technology, rural infrastructure and human capital.
“Farmers are getting benefits from the progress - their purchasing power has increased thanks to the steady growth and prosperity in the farm economy,” said Jiban Krishna Biswas, former Director General of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute in Gazipur.
He said the growth in the agricultural sector has changed the life and economy of rural people and they now have access to electricity and different modern technology as much as the urban population does.
For sustainable agriculture, we have to practice eco-friendly agriculture practices, we have to conserve water, environment and reduce pollution, he said.
Bangladesh is now the world’s fourth largest producer of rice after China, India and Indonesia. But rice production has decreased slightly in recent years due to adverse weather.
Domestic rice production for the 2017-18 marketing year was forecast at 34.18 million tonnes, down from 34.578 million tonnes in 2016-17 and compared with 34.5 million tonnes in 2015-16.
Not only rice, the country is also making progress in potato, fruits, fish and other agricultural commodity production.
“Bangladesh’s agriculture has made a remarkable progress in terms of production and diversification towards high-value crops and non-crop agriculture over time. All sub-sectors (crop, forestry, animal farming and fisheries) of agriculture have registered substantial growth,” according to the key notepaper presented at the 15th National Conference of the Bangladesh Agricultural Economists Association (BAEA) in January 2016.
Agricultural GDP has increased by 5.6 times since the independence. On the other hand, the total GDP has increased by 20.8 times. Per capita income has increased by 6.2 times, from $211 dollars to $1,314 (the current year $1600), according to the keynote presented Dr Uttam Deb, an expatriate Bangladeshi economist at the University of Arkansas University, US.
Bangladesh has achieved lower middle-income country status in 2015 as per the World Bank classification. The average growth in agricultural GDP reached 3.5 percent during the period of Sixth Five Year Plan (FY2010/11 to FY2014/15), along with exceptional performance in FY 2010 and FY 2011.
The achievement in food self-sufficiency has been a major milestone for the country. Steady progress with diversification in favour of fish, meat and vegetable production has also contributed to the nutritional improvement.
Despite remarkable increase in the value of agriculture over the last four decades and particularly during the Sixth FYP, its share has been declining with the expansion of non-agriculture sectors (manufacturing and services) in both urban and rural areas.
The share of agriculture to the GDP has declined to 15.6 percent in 2014/15 from 58.4 percent in 1973/74. This transformation is in line with the national economic goal.