Experts and stakeholders have stressed empowering and grooming the next-generation farmers with policy support and equipping them with advanced technology for the development of the agriculture sector.
They also suggested major interventions in the sector that include climate adoption, public-private partnership coordination and collaboration, farmer-friendly policy and strategy, removing academia and industry gaps, women empowerment, extensive research, disruption-free value chain and supply chain.
They came up with the call and suggestions at a webinar, styled ‘From Food Security to Digitisation: Progress and Future of Agriculture in Bangladesh,’ on Tuesday.
Innovision Consulting Private Limited and Farming Future Bangladesh jointly organised the webinar on agriculture under the Bangladesh Miracle Event- Series 02.
The Bangladesh Miracle is an integrated campaign for promoting the developmental success of Bangladesh and its underlying foundations to the global policymakers, investors, development partners, and academia.
CEO of Farming Future Bangladesh Md Arif Hossain presented a keynote paper at the event while Strategic Advisor of Innovision Consulting Private Limited Misha Mahjabeen moderated it.
Dr Nazrul Islam, Visiting Professor, Dept. of Economics, North South University (NSU; Zaki Zaman, Country Representative, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation(UNIDO); Nadira Khanam, Gender Equity Specialist, Cowater International – Pro Nurse Project; Subrata Kumar, Founder and CEO, Bhalo Social Enterprises; and Tajwar Awal, Director, Lal Teer Seed attended the function as the panel speakers.
The webinar highlighted and addressed the possible pathways for the development of the agriculture sector based on the success and challenges of Bangladesh in agriculture over the past few decades,
Pointing out consumers’ concern about safe food and supply chains, Arif Hossain in the keynote paper called for working on the reliance on imports for lots of products.
Arif Hossain also suggested regulatory bodies take decisions based on scientific evidence.
UNIDO Country Representative Zaki Zaman described the market structure in Bangladesh as unstructured and volatile.
According to him, farmers in Bangladesh produce without knowing the demand due to inadequate information services and the supply of unsafe food is becoming an issue these days.
“Digitalisation provides better access to international markets with the right products, reduced crop damage, monitoring distribution and price among many other things. It also improves productivity and causes better transparency,” he added.
Terming that sustainability was important in food security, Dr. Nazrul Islam said food system has different dimensions while coordination is necessary across the different dimensions of the food system.
Strategic village community enterprises or similar bodies are the key coordinating bodies to support the supply chain to keep the village economy functioning, he pointed out.
“These organisations should be facilitated by local governments, health, research, extension, and financial organisations,” he said.
Nadira Khanam said even though women participate in the labour force, there is a huge wage between male and female farmers, which should be removed through interventions.
“More than 60 per cent of women are doing unpaid jobs in agriculture,” she stated.
“Female farmers should have equal access to facilities or training or services like men. Women do not have equal access to digital hubs as well,” Nadira said.
Subrata Kumar pointed out that farmers do not have the scope to get the proper idea about the market as they have to depend on middlemen in marketing their crops.
He also suggested encouraging students or graduates in agriculture studies so that they can engage in the sector.
Tajwar Awal stressed efforts to enable farmers in producing higher-yielding varieties using less amount of land. He also said the dissemination of knowledge on crop rotation would help in the capacity building of farmers.