In 2019, the agricultural sector accounted for 39.71% of total employment in Bangladesh (Ref: Statista.com). This sector extends beyond agricultural production and includes food storage, processing, distribution, transportation, and many other services. However, the current COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the entire supply chain and made manpower immobile due to lockdown.
Then how do we boost such an important sector for the economy of Bangladesh?
We need to ‘promote growth in food value chains in response to consumer demand’.
Firstly, we need to improve the growth of agricultural productivity
In Bangladesh, a 10 percent increase in farm incomes generate a 6 percent increase in non-farm incomes through strong forward and backward linkages[i]. Improving agricultural productivity will help raise farm incomes and boost the demand for non-farm goods and services – leading to increased prospects for output growth and employment generation. Moreover, a more climate-smart agriculture will be needed which will raise productivity, enhance resilience. Thus, incorporation of technology in the agriculture production will be vital in the near future, and such incorporation requires the employment of fresh tech-graduates.
Action area to focus on:
- increase the development and adoption of improved crop and livestock technology and access to complementary inputs.
- strengthen farmer skills and knowledge.
Secondly, the government has to invest in complementary infrastructure.
The current lack of infrastructure in rural areas restrains farm and non-farm employment growth in food value chains. Rural roads and communications infrastructure, electrification, on-farm storage and warehousing infrastructure, port infrastructure can each help support jobs in farm and non-farm activities. This infrastructure will also aid in supply chain logistics – which again can leverage on technology with mobile apps like Truck Lagbe. So, development of such apps and software which can monitor end to end supply chain and logistics is crucial for higher efficiency and resilience in this industry – which again is a call for more employment opportunities. Agricultural sector in Bangladesh needs a robust infrastructural support. Modern Agriculture in Bangladesh is a demand of the time.
Thirdly, we need to improve the rural investment climate and trade.
Prospects of Agriculture in Bangladesh is losing its attractiveness for many reasons. The government should establish an environment which encourages business and investment. The government must stabilize the political scenario and introduce regulations regarding financing. Financing should be unbiased and made affordable to local producers, and barriers to entry should be reduced. Centers of education and support should be established and made accessible to all.
Moreover, promoting competition, privatization, and entrepreneurship will boost the revenue of agricultural sector in Bangladesh.
The government should promote competition and reward innovation to improve productivity in the agricultural sector in Bangladesh. To attract private enterprises, the government should minimize risk and transaction costs, and invest on infrastructure and network to improve efficiency.
Food demand is projected to grow by about 25 percent in developing countries during the next 15 years[ii]. The world food consumption patterns are changing in both rural and urban areas. With urbanization, there will be a boost in food demand growth, thereby increasing job opportunities in off-farm food management and transformation. Agricultural Sector in Bangladesh will face a big challenge in near future.
The writer is a sophomore in Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka.
You can reach him: [email protected]
[i] World Bank, The Dynamics of Rural Growth in Bangladesh: Sustaining Poverty Reduction (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2016).
[ii] World Bank, Shaping the Food System to Deliver Jobs (Washington, DC: 2015)