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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2677

Bangladesh expects bumper rice production

Colombo, 17 May, (INS + Rice production in the outgoing Boro (summer crop) season in Bangladesh is expected to increase by at least 10 per cent, predicts the Ministry of Agriculture, terming this year’s rice output a ‘bumper crop’ despite earlier apprehensions.

‘We were afraid of lower crop output. Now, during the harvesting, we see farmers everywhere in the country looking happy, and my belief is that they deserve a good price,’ the agriculture minister, MK Anwar, told reporters.

He criticized the hue and cry raised by a section of the urban people, including the media, for any increase in the price of rice, which, he explained, is far cheaper than any other commodity compared to the situation three decades ago.

‘How shall we be able to accelerate poverty alleviation without giving the hard-working farmers the price they deserve?’

This year Boro rice was cultivated on 4.3 million hectares of land, surpassing the initial estimate of 42 hectares, said the minister, referring to media reports that forecast a possible drop in Boro output due to the anticipated crisis of fertilizer and diesel.

The country grew 148 million tones of Boro rice in the 2004-05 fiscal year after the devastating flood in 2004. The statistics for this year’s Boro rice production will be available in three months, said ministry officials.

The minister expressed hope that jute, a cash-crop aimed at the sunset industries (ailing entities) these days, would be cultivated in a greater area this season as a result of the rising price, and there would be no crisis of jute seeds since the Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation was well prepared to ensure adequate supply.

The government will soon launch a number of projects to implement agriculture development initiatives, styled ‘Actionable policy briefs’, following a thorough farm sector review conducted in 2005 to address the challenges of Bangladesh agriculture.

Such challenges include shrinkage in farmland, depletion of soil fertility, high yield gap, slow mechanization, high input prices and absence of post-harvest technology.

The Food and Agriculture Organization, a specialized UN agency, has already finalized a proposal with estimated expenditure for implementation of the programme containing 60 recommendations.

The organization’s country representative, Bui Thi Lan, called on the agriculture minister on Monday and informed him that the proposal for implementation of the policy briefs would encompass six major areas — soil, seeds, irrigation, mechanization, research and extension work.

Anwar pointed out that the government had in recent years streamlined all the research organizations and agencies under the agriculture ministry, which would result in increased production and crop diversity in the near future.

Food production in the country is about to reach about 280 million tonnes.

He cited an example, saying that he had directed the agriculture sector officials to take steps to minimize the yield gap between researchers’ and farmers’ levels, and the findings of 20 such demonstration centers showed that average yield would increase by 3-4 tones per hectare.

The minister, in reply to a question, said the farm subsidy in different forms at the end of the current fiscal year would stand at US$ 0.4 billion.

- INS + Asian Tribune -

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