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BDS Current Issue Volume XL, March-June 2017, Number 1&2

The Transformation of Bangladesh's Agriculture

Author: Azizur Rahman Khan

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This paper analyses the evolution of the role of the agricultural sector in Bangladesh in recent decades in the context of similar roles performed by the sector both in the historical and contemporary cases of development. It demonstrates that the quality of economic growth, in terms of both egalitarianism and efficiency, has been strongly reflected in the type of agricultural evolution experienced.The paper argues that in one respect, namely bringing about a rapid decline in agriculture’s share of GDP despite decent agricultural growth, Bangladesh has achieved significant success; but it has failed to bring about a corresponding decline in the proportion of the labour force employed in, or eking out a living from agriculture. The result has been a widening in the disparity of living standard between those deriving livelihood from agriculture and those deriving livelihood from non-agricultural activities.  The paper explores the issue with the help of the Labour Force Survey data, which unambiguously point to a failure in bringing about the so-called Lewis transition – the beginning of an absolute decline in employment in agriculture but shows that, even after taking into account the alternative findings of Mahabub Hossain’s research based on microeconomic data, it cannot be argued that the possible decline in employment in agriculture has been sufficiently rapid to warrant a decline in disparity between agricultural and non-agricultural living standards.The paper concludes by outlining the needed reform and public action that would contribute to a more desirable pattern of agricultural transformation.

Agricultural and Food Policy Framework in Bangladesh: An Assessment

Author: Quazi Shahabuddin and Atiqur Rahman

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Since the liberation of Bangladesh, the government of Bangladesh introduced a series of policy measures in agriculture and food sectors to encourage pro-market distribution of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and diesel fuel for irrigation. The dominant feature of the policy reform had been the government’s liberalisation of the fertilizer and irrigation equipment markets. These reforms can be reasonably credited with the success in rice production during the 1984-1992 period. Reforms in the foodgrains market in the 1990s reduced the public sector involvement in these markets. Public procurement to stabilise prices and provide production incentives to farmers suffered from certain inefficiencies, although the overall impact of public procurement and price support programmes could be considered positive. The policy reforms were surprisingly smooth partly reflecting the absence of organised lobby by peasants and partly the fact that the policy reforms have benefitted, by and large, all groups of farmers. 

Indian Agriculture after Liberalisation

Author: Abhijit Sen and Jayati Ghosh

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This paper examines broad trends in agricultural output growth, food prices and the viability of cultivation over the period of liberalising economic reforms in India since the early 1990s. These trends are considered in relation to the current perceptions of agrarian crisis in India and the degree to which the economic liberalisation process may have contributed to this crisis. The relationship between patterns of cultivation and technological changes as well as environmental concerns is also highlighted. 

Determinants of Adoption of Rice Yield Gap Minimisation Technology in Bangladesh

Author: M. Asaduzzaman and Asif Reza Anik

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Increasing rice production through reducing the yield gap between what experiments in research stations achieve and what farmers get in their fields is much emphasised in different policy documents in Bangladesh. By analysing farm level survey data collected from 300 paddy growers belonging to nine different districts in the country, this paper attempts to find out the factors that affect adoption of technology (or technologies) that minimises rice yield gaps and the level of adoption by the adopters. Econometric analysis shows that farm level adoption decision is influenced by a wide range of socio-economic, demographic and natural-physical factors such as education, farm size, off-farm income, access to extension services, adoption of related other practices as well as agro-ecology although their effects on adoption decision may vary. The findings argue for some specific policy interventions and emphasise the importance of designing strategies for technology dissemination considering farm level factors. 

Bangladesh Experience in Rural Development: The Success and Failure of the Various Models Used

Author: Kazi Ali Toufique

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This paper describes the experience of rural development in Bangladesh by (i) highlighting the key stylized facts about the dynamics of the rural economy, (ii) summarising the key approaches, policies and programmes adopted for rural development, and (iii) making recommendations for improvement of rural development strategies. The rural economy has become more complex due to the growth of the non-farm sector, migration, commercialisation, development of infrastructure and appearance of new actors such as the NGOs. Farming still plays a critical role but not the central one and rural development strategy has to be more cross-sectoral and multi-occupational in approach.

Smallholder Agriculture and Inclusive Rural Transformation

Author: Atiqur Rahman

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In spite of the predictions of gradual withering away of small farms in developing countries, they still exist in large numbers. This paper examines the rationale for their persistence, and the opportunities they and rural small and medium enterprises (SMEs) offer for rural and hence overall economic development in the rapidly diversifying rural sectors of developing countries. The paper notes that the urban manufacturing and the services sectors have not been able to create employment in large enough scale to absorb the rural un- and under-employed, and argues that small farmers and rural SMEs with larger and well-managed investments can achieve inclusive rural transformation, i.e. help these countries to achieve zero poverty and hunger (Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2), promote growth and take the countries beyond the “Lewis turning point.” 

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