Ministers along with local and foreign experts on Thursday called for improving land management for its economic use, creating employment for rural youth, and ensuring fair price for produces of farmers addressing the governance problems to ensure food security in Bangladesh.
They said this at a function as Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute released its Global Food Policy Report 2019 in Dhaka on the day.
IFPRI director general Shenggen Fan said rural areas ‘continue to face a crisis worldwide’ and fundamental transformation of agricultural-food systems of rural areas ‘is urgently needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.’
Improving governance situation, getting rid of corruption, making institutions under local government functioning, empowering women and protecting environment are mandatory for rural revitalisation, he said.
Economist Hossain Zillur Rahman, also executive chairman of Power and Participation Research Centre, contradicted with the notion of rural wage increase and said daily wage in rural areas might be increased, but there are questions on the increase of real income.
He stressed the need for developing sustainable land management system for efficient management of land, addressing rapid urbanisation, creating new employment for youth in agriculture sector amid growing population.
Mentioning about structural constraints in Bangladesh, IFPRI country representative Akhter Ahmed said one-third of all farm households in Bangladesh are ‘pure tenants’ (share croppers) which deterred technology adoption.
He stressed the need for making policies to promote agriculture-driven non-farm activities, gainfully employ local youth in agricultural value chains, ensuring return for share croppers for land they cultivate and improve productivity keeping rising labour costs in consideration.
Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies director general KAS Murshid said a regulatory framework for addressing malnutrition and problems in food safety and food quality should be high priority for addressing chemical contamination, land degradation and air pollution.
Former finance minister M Saiduzzaman said low flow of foreign direct investment and rapid urbanisation must be considered while making policy frameworks for rural areas.
Bangladesh Agricultural University professor emeritus MA Sattar Mandal said ensuring fair price for agricultural produces was essential for rural people.
BRAC Institute of Governance Studies executive director Imran Matin stressed the need for improvement in governance situation on implementation of the projects under the local government authorities.
Former adviser to interim government MM Shawkat Ali proposed for formation of a price commission for ensuring fair price for produces of farmers in rural areas.
Agriculture minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque admitted that foreign investment was not coming to Bangladesh. ‘Being a part of the government, I am also concerned [about that].’
‘Land management is a serious problem,’ he said.
Criticising present land management system of the government, prime minister’s adviser Mashiur Rahman said land management in Bangladesh is focused only on collection of revenue and maintaining records. No one was working on how to make economic use of land, he said.
Planning ministry’s General Economic Division member Shamsul Alam said a systemic approach ‘is needed for accelerating rural transformation amid adverse impacts of climate change, which has already happened in Bangladesh with the rise of temperature, reduction of rainfall and sea-level rise.
Agriculture ministry additional secretary Nazmun Ara Khanom, among others, also spoke at the function.
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