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Agriculture  science and practice of producing crops. The other sub-sectors of agriculture are livestock, poultry, fish and fisheries, and forest and forestry. The agriculture of Bangladesh largely depends on the amount and distribution of the rainfall ie the southwest monsoon, which comes during June-October. Since agriculture is the mainstay of the majority of the people of Bangladesh, the article deals with all relevant aspects, which are given below.


History From very ancient times agriculture has been the main source of the livelihood of the vast majority of the population of the territories that constituted the Bengal province as in 1911, and in the two parts into which this province was subsequently divided independent Bangladesh and West Bengal under the Indian Union. The pattern has been more or less the same in other parts of the sub-continent. But the fact that almost the entire Bengal constitutes a flat, alluvial plain traversed by three mighty rivers the ganges, brahmaputra and meghna and their innumerable tributaries, with plenty of rainfall, make agricultural operations relatively easy. Consequently, population pressure on agriculture has been particularly heavy in this region.

The decline in industrial activity, especially in the production of cotton textiles, during the early British rule further added to this pressure. Indeed, by 1921 about four-fifths (77.3%) of the total population became dependent on agriculture as against an all-India average of 69.8%. During British rule these people belonged to different social groups: rent-receiving landlords (zamindars), tenure-holders of different grades on the one hand, and the raiyats (tenant-cultivators), bargadars and agricultural labourers on the other. The vast majority, of course, consisted of raiyats directly involved in agricultural operations. Of the two parts of Bengal, population pressure on agriculture has been higher in the territories that constitute Bangladesh today.

The most important feature of the agrarian economy during the ancient, medieval and the British periods was that crop production remained the most dominant sub-sector. Three other sub-sectors of agriculture viz livestock, fisheries and forestry were relatively unimportant. Needless to say, the pattern remains the same even today. A whole variety of crops was grown, and in the official publications issued by the British government these were mentioned under three heads bhadoi (autumn), aghni (winter) and rabi (spring) corresponding to their harvesting time. The crops included paddy, jute, wheat, jowar, barley, sugarcane, tobacco, oilseeds, potato, onion, garlic, opium, indigo, tea, different kinds of vegetable, pulses, spices and condiments. rice was the most important and one of the oldest crops. The earliest reference to this crop is found in the Mahasthan Brahmi Inscription belonging to the third or the second century BC. This crop is also mentioned in several other literary sources: Kalidasa Raghovngsa, Ramcharita, Casapala, and Saduktikarnamrita.

Inscriptions, particularly those issued by the Sena rulers, contain description of paddy fields. Thus, the Anulia copperplate of Laksmansena mentions the harvest of sali rice in autumn. The same inscription tells us that the king gave away to Brahmans several villages containing lands producing paddy. Another reference to this crop is found in the Edilpur copperplate. In this inscription paddy is referred to in general term as sali. However, this is only one of the best of the many varieties grown in different early settlements of Bengal-Vanga, Varendri, Gauda, Purnavardhana or Pundra, Radha and Samtata. There are also references to a large number of other crops grown in ancient Bengal cotton, barley (yava), mustard, sugarcane, and pulses like kalai and mug. Cotton was the most important commercial crop. Different sources refer to its cultivation in ancient Bengal. Apart from these crops a large number of vegetables and fruits were also produced. The following vegetables are mentioned in the sayings of Khana brinjal, long gourd, radish, arum, chilli, turmeric, and patal. Fruit trees like mango, jackfruit, pomegranate (dalimba), plantain, Modhuka, date (kharjura), citrom (vija), figs (parkali), tamarind, and coconut were also widely grown. The mango and breadfruit are mentioned in a large number of Pala and Sena inscriptions.

The Chinese traveller hiuen-tsang who visited Bengal in seventh century AD refers to the abundant growth of panasa in Purnavardhana. This crop is also mentioned in Govindapur copperplate of Laksmansena and the Calcutta Sahitya Parisad copperplate of Visvarupasena. The plantain tree is frequently depicted in Paharpur terracotta plaques. From the inscriptions of Khadga, Chandras and Varmans and those of the Senas it is clear that from the eighth century onwards coconut was extensively grown. Betel-leaf and betel nuts were also grown. Betel leaf cultivation was in the hands of a class of people known as Barai or Barujivi. These crops were exported to other parts of India. Another product used mainly for construction of houses, baskets and sunshades was bamboo. Ramcharit describes Varendri as a land of excellent flowers of countless varieties including asoka, kesara, madhuka, kanaka, ketaka, malali, nagakesara and lotus. Trees which supplied medicines or fruits such as amlaki, triphala, haritaki were also cultivated in ancient Bengal.

The basic livestock of the peasants was cattle, used for ploughing, transport and various dairy products. Wealth was sometimes measured in terms of the number of cattle in one’s possession. Certain expressions in Pala and Sena land grants suggest that pasture grounds produced various kinds of grass for livestock and these were usually located near villages. Villagers sometimes employed communal cowherds who drove the cattle branded with the owners’ marks every morning to the pasture and waste beyond the fields under cultivation and returned with them at dusk. Milk, curd and butter were important articles of diet. The flesh and bones of the cows were used for manuring, while cow dung was used both as a fuel and manure. Among various other animals represented either in sculptures or referred to in inscriptions and literary sources mention may be made of buffaloes, horses, goats, sheep, deer, monkeys, boars, jackals, lions, tigers, etc. A whole variety of fresh water and sea-fish was available in abundance and fish constituted an important item of the diet of the people.

Epigraphic and literary sources are full of references to the fertility of the soil in ancient Bengal. When Hiuen-Tsang visited Bengal in the seventh century AD, he noticed intensive and regular cultivation of land. His description is corroborated by some of the poems in Saduktikarnamrita. However, all land was not fertile nor served by adequate rainfall. Such land needed artificial irrigation. The numerous tanks in many parts of north Bengal Mahipala, Ramsagara, Pransagara were most probably constructed by the rulers for this purpose. The people also knew the technique of sinking wells for reaching deep-flowing streams. In some cases, they altered the course of rivers so that they could supply canals. They also knew how to regulate the flow of water to make canals overflow and thus swamp paddy fields. William Wilcox calls this ancient system ‘overflow irrigation’. Literary sources provide names of different agricultural implements used during this period. These are ploughshares (fal), cleavers (da), sickles (kaste), frames (pasi), ladders (mai), sticks (pacanbadi) and rice-husking pedals (dhenki). Most of these implements were made by village blacksmiths and carpenters. Casapala of Ramesvar describes the different processes involved in the manufacture of those implements.

In most copper-plates belonging to the Gupta period and found in Bengal there are references to the king or the state itself selling land; when the land is donated for religious purposes, the king is given one-sixth of the religious merit due from the land grant. In every case the application for the purchase of land was made to the king through local officers. The king’s permission was particularly necessary in these pious grants for it was only the king who had the power to exempt land from the payment of all royal dues. Thus in the earliest period for which records can be traced the king or the state was the owner of the soil. Some advocates of the theory that there was private ownership of land have argued that lands referred to in most of these inscriptions were khila or wastelands. But three copperplates from Faridpur and most Pala and Sena inscriptions record grants not merely of wastelands, but of whole villages as well. These villages must have included in them settled vastu and cultivated lands also. Again, the evidence of the Tippera grant of Lokanatha makes it clear that the king’s ownership extended to forestlands. For then proof which can be advanced in support of the royal ownership of land is that the king could confiscate or annul a grant and make a fresh endowment of it to another person. However, though lands were owned by the state, cultivation was carried on by peasants living in villages and was based on individual peasant farming. The king’s share of the agricultural produce was obviously the main source of state income. But though a host of tax names are mentioned in our sources these do not tell us what proportion of produce was appropriated by the state as revenue and as levies. Most of the land revenue was assessed in kind, but certain classes of crops were assessed in cash on the ground that it was difficult to divide into shares. Probably hiranya was a tax of this type. In some areas cultivators had to pay royal dues on the basis of the number of ploughs used for tilling land.

For information on agricultural conditions in medieval times one has to rely on the accounts of foreign travellers and local literature. Indeed, foreign travellers praised the fertility of Bengal soil and the state of its agriculture. For example, a Chinese account of 1349/50 stated, ‘The seasons of Heaven have scattered the wealth of the Earth over this kingdom’. At about the same time ibn battuta visited east Bengal. He mentioned that as he travelled from sylhet to sonargaon by rivers for 15 days he saw on his right and left orchards, water wheels, prosperous villages and gardens, ‘as if we were passing through a market’. During shaista khan’s time Bernier came to Bengal. He noticed on both sides of the Ganges ‘extremely fertile’ fields producing a whole variety of crops. Abul Fazl informed us that a particular variety of rice was ‘sown and reaped three times in the same year without little injury to the crop’. But this cannot be taken as an index of the general fertility of the land. For even as late as the middle of the twentieth century, only a small part of the land was cropped more than twice in the same agricultural season.

However, the validity of early references to the flourishing conditions of agriculture cannot be in doubt. Certainly during the Sultanate and Mughal periods Bengal agriculture experienced considerable expansion. Many of the place names with abad (for example, Fatahbad and Khalifabad) meaning "settled" or "cultivated" bear testimony to their settlement and cultivation during this period. The government took some steps for the extension of cultivation through reclamation. For example, it provided loans called ‘taqavi’ to enable peasants to buy seeds and bullocks or agricultural tools and implements. More frequently, lower revenue rates were granted to encourage the cultivation of wasteland. The rates were gradually increased every year until full rates were reached. The government took such steps primarily because extension of cultivation meant enhancement of land revenue, which was the principal source of income of the government. The basic impetus to the extension of cultivation was provided by population growth. However, it is not possible to say to what extent crop acreage expanded during medieval times. But Irfan Habib has hazarded the guess that during the Mughal period (1526-1707) the cropped area in certain parts of Bengal (as also in some other regions of Mughal India) doubled.

As in the ancient period, the chief agricultural produce was rice. It was produced in such abundance that after meeting local requirements there remained a considerable surplus for export. Broadly speaking, three varieties of paddy were grown. These were Aush (autumn), Aman (winter) and boro (summer). Within each of these three varieties there were great many cultivars of rice. Many of these are named in contemporary sources, including Shuny-Purana and Shivayana. Indeed, according to the former there were more than one thousand varieties. The Mughal historian Abul Fazl corroborates this information when he says that a large vase would be filled up ‘if a single grain of each kind were collected’. This description in not exaggerated. For in an exhibition held in Calcutta in the first decade of the twentieth century, more than one thousand varieties of rice were put on display. Abul Fazl speaks of a special variety of paddy which used to grow up with the gradual rise of water-level so that no harm was done to the crop from water. Here he seems to be referring to broadcast variety of Aman paddy grown in low-lying areas subject to regular flooding. The other variety of winter rice was transplanted Aman or ropa Aman.

Cotton and mulberry plants were the two most important industrial crops of the province. Incidentally, cotton and silk were the principal industries of Bengal. Cotton was produced in different districts of western, northern, and eastern Bengal. In western Bengal a large quantity was produced in Birbhum, Burdwan and Nadia districts, while in north Bengal it was produced mainly in Rangpur, Malda and Dinajpur districts. However, the best quality of cotton suitable for the famous muslin industry was grown in dhaka and mymensingh districts. John Taylor, an agent of the east india company around 1800 AD, mentioned that the cotton (karpas) produced around Dhaka city and along the banks of the Meghna was the ‘finest’ that was to be found in ‘any part of the world’. Taylor further mentioned that cotton seed was sown in October-November and harvested in April-May. With the decline of the cotton textile industry during the rule of the East India Company, cotton cultivation virtually came to an end in Bengal. Mulberry plants for silkworms were grown in central and north Bengal, especially in the districts of murshidabad and rajshahi. In all probability this crop was introduced from China and it was for the first time mentioned in the account of a Chinese traveller in the fifteenth century Bengal. Abul Fazl, Travernier, Bernier and English factory records also refer to the cultivation of mulberry plants in the province. Travernier, who visited kasimbazar in 1666, stated that the annual production of this crop in Kasimbazar was of the order of 2.5 millions pounds and a certain part of it was exported to other parts of India.

Yet another commercial crop was sugarcane. Down to 1756 a considerable trade in Bengal sugar was carried on with Madras, Bombay, the Malabar coast, Surat, Sind, Muscat, the Persian Gulf, Mocha and Jeddah. Bengal was the chief centre of this industry with a large export trade in sugar even in the middle of the seventeenth century. This is clear from the accounts of Barbosa, Barthema, and Bernier as well as from the records of the English and the Dutch. It would then appear that sugarcane constituted an important industrial crop in medieval Bengal. A certain proportion of the land was sown with such commercial crops as rape, mustard and other oilseeds. Several new crops were introduced in the province during this period. These were tobacco, maize and probably indigo. Similarly, three new fruits, for example, cashew nut, pineapple and papaya were received from the west. Guava came later. So did sweet and ordinary potato. Thus, not only did Bengali peasants grow multiplicity of crops, but they were also prepared to accept new ones. Once again, contemporary accounts make it clear that great variety of fishes were abundantly available from rivers and their tributaries, including haors, beels, ponds and the sea.

Visiting the province in the fourteenth century, Ibn Batuta noted that the villagers living by the ‘blue-river’ paid half of their produce as land tax together with other imposts. Wang-ta-yuan, writing at about the same time, said that state demand during medieval times was one-fifth of the total produce. This apparent anomaly was possibly due to variations in revenue rates in different regions in accordance with the productivity of the soil and the nature of the crops. During the Sultanate period there were several rates ranging from one-fifth to one half of the produce. The standard rate at the time of akbar was one-third of the produce. This continued to be so during the rule of murshid quli khan. However, apart from land revenue there were other rural taxes. It has been suggested that at the all-India level these levies accounted for about 25 percent of the land revenue. Thus, judged by any standard, revenue rates were very high in medieval Bengal.

Revenue was levied at rates per unit of land or in lump sum covering entire villages. In some areas land revenue continued to be assessed on the basis of the number of ploughs used for tilling the land. Land revenue and other taxes were paid in cash. This means that the cultivators had to sell a considerable part of their agricultural produce. In other words, commodity production developed on a significant scale. The rural-urban exchange, which thus developed, had a special character in the sense that it was a one-way traffic. Rural areas sold cash and food crops to urban centres without buying anything substantial in return. This was so because all the non-agricultural goods, which the villagers needed, were produced in the villages. This is not to support the assumption (at one time popular) that every village in the medieval period was self-sufficient, but to emphasize the point that rural areas were by and large self-sufficient. Land revenue was collected with the help of a group of mostly hereditary intermediaries known as zamindars of different size and status, and officials known as amils. The system of giving pattas to the peasants was generally followed during the Sultani and Mughal period. In the Chandimangal of Kavikankan and Shivyana of Rameshvara Bhattacharya, the legendary raiyats are depicted as receiving pattas from Indra and Kalaketu respectively. Tenants were of two categories khudkasta and pahikasta. Early British administrators called tenants of the former category ‘resident’ cultivators. The latter category included peasants who came from other villages to cultivate land on temporary basis. They paid generally lower rate of rent than the khudkasta cultivators.

Farming methods and most agricultural tools and implements remained the same as in the ancient period. With regard to farming methods the only exception was in chittagong hill tracts. Here a method of shifting cultivation locally known as jhum is practised even today. The method of lifting water from wells did not improve. The Persian wheel, which was introduced in north India remained unknown in Bengal. The system of manuring seems to have been the same. Consequently, it is unlikely that yield rates of important crops was higher during the Mughal period than in the late nineteenth or twentieth century. It may be argued that yield rates could have been higher because more fertile lands were under cultivation during these times. But as against this it could also be argued that as land-man ratio was more favourable, less intensive method of cultivation was followed. However, a favourable land-man ratio meant that per capita production was larger in medieval Bengal. The cheapness of the agricultural produce, which so drew the attention of foreign travellers, may well be taken as the index of the abundance of agricultural produce during the medieval period.

Several important qualifications need to be made, however. Firstly, as is still the case today, agriculture was a ‘gamble in the monsoon’. This means that production was affected sometimes by excessive rainfall and sometimes by drought. Little is known about the outbreak of famines, but it is likely that sometimes famine conditions prevailed in some parts of the province. Secondly, there was a certain degree of inequality among the cultivating classes. While a section of the rural families held such large holdings that these could not be operated with the help of family labour alone, others were denied access to land or held small holdings. This meant that a certain section of rural families earned their living as agricultural labourers. This is indicated by Vipradas who gave the picture of the Muslim peasantry of west Bengal. Thus, even though on average per capita production was higher, its distribution was unequal. Although agricultural produce was in abundant supply for the vast majority of the people engaged in this field, the overall standard of living does not seem to have been enviable. This is clear from the account of foreign travellers and the evidence available from local sources. Abul Fazl says that the common people of Bengal for the most part went naked, wearing only a cloth (lungi) about the loins. It is not convincing that this was dictated by climatic factors and social traditions, since the upper classes could be distinguished by the type and quality of the clothes they wore. Moreover, in those days cotton production and weaving was widespread in Bengal. It might then be suggested that cloth was more expensive relative to paddy. By and large people did not use shoes, and Moreland thinks that this was due to the high cost of leather. The bulk of the peasants lived in single-roomed houses made of mud with thatched roofs. The peasants’ houses had hardly any furniture besides cots and bamboo mats. Utensils made of bell-metal or copper were expensive and were not generally used by the people. Thus despite the abundance of agricultural production there is little to indicate that the agriculturists enjoyed a high standard of living.

The agricultural sector of the Indian sub-continent experienced a marked expansion during British colonial rule. Total volume and value of agricultural production increased, mostly through the extension of cultivated area. What is more, as India changed her role from a supplier of industrial goods to a supplier of agricultural produce, and as the domestic market also expanded with the development of certain industries and urban centres, production for the market became a more important feature than in the past. This was so despite the fact that with the decline of traditional industries and the natural growth of population there was now increased pressure (of population) on the agricultural sector. The impact of the widening of market was felt first in Bengal because it was the first province to come under British rule.

Towards the end of the eighteenth century vast tracts of land in Bengal were cultivable wastes. An important factor behind this situation was the famine of 1770, which caused considerable depopulation in different parts of the province. But during the succeeding century or so crop acreage expanded fast and by the turn of the twentieth century it virtually reached its natural limits (there being little scope for further extension of cultivation). However, expansion was most concentrated in the territories that today constitute Bangladesh. Thus, the greater part of Chittagong and noakhali, most of the Meghna estuary including Tipperah, the whole of the barind tracts, Sundarbans, and the haor area of Northeast Bengal were brought under cultivation during the nineteenth century. Peasants of three districts of 24 Parganas, Khulna and Bakerganj participated in the reclamation of the Sundarbans area. The census statistics show a striking population growth in the new agricultural settlements. However, the new cultivation in these districts at the expense of the Sundarbans was in fact far larger than the size of population growth. The great fertility of the soil there made it possible for an individual raiyat to farm a much larger area than he did elsewhere. Moreover, a considerable part of the cultivation was done by non-resident raiyats who went back home after cultivating their lands there. Another field of reclamation in these districts was the fertile alluvial lands constantly brought into existence by the active rivers.

The largest scope for such reclamation was in Bakerganj. In Tipperah too vast areas of char (alluvial lands, formerly the habitation of pigs) were brought under cultivation. Apart from these new agricultural settlements in eastern Bengal as a whole, some individual districts there had their own particular regions of growth. In the Barind area the southern third of Dinajpur, the eastern half of Malda, the western half of Bogra and the northern quarter of Rajshahi reclamation was made possible by immigrant Santal labour. However, the pattern was different in certain parts of west and central Bengal. Here as a natural process a decay of the river system had been taking place over a long period of time.

This was now accelerated by the construction of railways and feeder roads to connect the railways with remote villages. This produced two adverse results: land productivity declined and the outbreak of malaria fever became frequent. This latter phenomenon led to a decline in population growth. In the circumstances crop acreage in districts like Nadia, Birbhum, Midnapore, Hoogly, and Jessore declined or remained stagnant in the latter half of the nineteenth century. However, though the performance in the two parts of the province- the moribund and active delta was different, the trend in Bengal as a whole was a positive one, since agricultural production increased in volume as also in value because of improvement in prices. It is unlikely that there was any significant improvement in the yield rate of crops in east Bengal districts during the nineteenth century.

The story told so far about crop production in the nineteenth century is based on impressionistic assessment of concerned officials, and population statistics drawn from decennial census reports, but not on any time-series data on cropped area and yield per acre. Such data were made available by the government only from 1891/92 onwards. The relevant publications are Estimates of Area and Yields of Principal Crops in India, Agricultural Statistics of India, Agricultural Statistics of Bengal and Season and Crop Reports. Much has been said about the quality of these statistics. However, most scholars are of the opinion that though it is difficult to estimate the volume of crop output with any degree of reliability on the basis of these data, it is possible to estimate the time-trend on the assumption that the margin of error remained more or less uniform over time.

To proceed on the basis of the officially published statistics, the area under cultivation in some of the west and central Bengal districts declined or continued to decline. On the other hand, crop acreage marginally increased (especially through the extension of double cropping) in East Bengal districts. But the rate of increase was now so marginal that the overall pattern was one of stagnation. Among the individual crops, jute area recorded some expansion but the stagnation in paddy, which accounted for about 80 percent of the total crop acreage, determined the overall trend. According to the officially published statistics, food crop acreage expanded fast after 1941. This was attributed to the "Grow More Food" campaign launched by the government during these years. However, it seems that the success of this campaign was not as spectacular as claimed. What about the trends in yield rates? On the basis of the available data it appears that jute yield increased and so did the yield of sugarcane. But the yield rate of Aman paddy did not improve. This meant stagnation in the all-crop yield rate.

Stagnation in the all-crop yield rate and acreage, in turn, meant that all-crop output did not increase. This came about against a background of population growth of about one percent per annum. Per capita crop production was already low at the turn of the twentieth century because high population density meant that the average size of a holding was small (about four acres). Now the stagnation in crop production led to a further lowering of per capita output.

A Provincial Department of Agriculture was established in 1885. This Department took a number of steps for agricultural improvement. These included: (i) experiments with improved methods of cultivation through the establishment of experimental farms in Burdwan, Dhaka, Rajshahi, Shibpur and Rangpur, (ii) demonstration to the peasants of the improved methods through the appointment of demonstrators, (iii) dissemination of the results of experiments among the cultivators through publication of agricultural literature, (iv) supply to the peasants of better seeds grown in the farms, (v) provision for imparting training to the sons of the cultivators in the improved methods, and (vi) introduction of improved agricultural implements. But the impact of these efforts at the farm level was extremely limited. Consequently, the method of farming and agricultural tools and implements remained more or less the same as in medieval and ancient times.

Commercial fertiliser was unknown. Use of improved varieties of seeds made little progress. Towards the close of the 1930s, only six percent of the paddy area was sown with improved seeds. The irrigated area accounted for only a small part of the total cropped area and this was concentrated in certain districts of west Bengal. Meanwhile, the double-cropped area increased in East Bengal districts, but with a corresponding decline in fallow lands. Thus the causes for the stagnation in the yield per acre of the major crops are not far to seek.

As mentioned earlier, with the establishment of British rule agricultural production not only increased in terms of volume and value, it became more commercialised or market-oriented. This was not new, but commercialisation now became an important feature of the agrarian economy. Production for sale did not remain confined to the cash crops, for according to one estimate (Report on the Marketing of Rice in India), towards the close of the 1930s, 44 percent of the total rice output was marketed in Bengal. However, cash crop cultivation also increased. Most important in this respect was the expansion of jute acreage, especially in certain districts of east and north Bengal (Dhaka, Mymensingh and Rangpur).

At its height jute cultivation provided employment to more than 10 percent of the agricultural labour force, different groups of middlemen involved in jute trade, profits to the mill owners and export-firms in Calcutta, an industrial labour force of considerable size and, most important of all, contributed the bulk of the marketed surplus in the agricultural sector. According to one estimate, the proportion of total marketed surplus contributed by this crop ranged between 20 percent in 1920/21 and 64 percent in 1925/26, the average for the period 1920/21-1932/33 being 40 percent as against 34 percent in the case of rice.

Jute was an export crop, both in raw and manufactured form, and jute manufactures included gunny bags and gunny cloths used for packaging purposes. The basic impetus to increased jute production was provided by foreign demand. The first jute mill was established in Calcutta in 1855. During the next 50 years, thirty-four other jute mills were established. In 1900/01 the manufacturing capacity of these mills consisted of 315,000 spindles and 15340 looms. They employed over 110 thousand workers and consumed about 40 percent of the total crop. Meanwhile demand from Dundee mills increased and by 1896/97 jute acreage expanded to 1.6 million acres from a meagre 0.553 million acres in 1876/77. During the period 1920-47, jute acreage accounted for about 10 percent of the total cropped area. The highest point was reached during 1904/05-1907/08 when more than three million acres were sown with this crop. Jute acreage did not significantly decline even during the depression years when prices were very low. As rightly pointed out by two jute enquiry committees (Finlow Committee and Fawcus Committee), this was due to the absence of a profitable alternative crop.

Other cash crops grown in Bengal during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were tea, opium, indigo, sugarcane, tobacco and oilseeds. Tea, a plantation crop, was distinguishable from other cash crops in the sense that it was cultivated entirely with the help of wage labour (mostly drawn from tribal people). Tea was grown only in three districts Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Chittagong. Opium had, one distinctive feature: the exclusive control of the government over its production and sale. But its production was mostly confined to Patna and its neighbourhood. Indigo cultivation had an impressive growth rate. Once again, the main incentive was provided by increased foreign demand as a result of the decline in its supply from traditional sources such as western India, parts of North America and the West Indies. The East India Company had a stake in the expansion of indigo average. For after the decline in the export of cotton textiles from Bengal, the colonial government was badly in need of a profitable external commerce, mainly as a medium of remittance, and found in indigo a promising substitute.

However, an element of extra-economic coercion was present in planter’s instruments for promoting indigo cultivation. This was because indigo cultivation was not profitable for the raiyats. Left to them they would not have cultivated the crop. Consequently, the system of indigo cultivation proved oppressive and in 1859/60 raiyats revolted against indigo cultivation. Unlike earlier instances of anti-indigo resistance, the Indigo Revolt of this year engulfed the whole of the indigo belt. As a result indigo cultivation declined drastically in Bengal. Sugarcane, another cash crop, was one of the few crops (others being tea and linseed) which registered some improvement in yields per acre. This was due to two factors. Firstly, during the 1930s more than half of the area under sugarcane was sown with improved varieties of seedlings. Secondly, the use of iron mill for crushing sugarcane increased. But all the cash crops (excluding jute) taken together did not account for even five percent of the total cropped area of the province.

The institutional framework of Bengal agriculture during British rule was provided by the permanent settlement introduced by Lord CHARLES cornwallis in 1793. Under this arrangement, zamindars were declared as the proprietors of land, the revenue payable by them to the government was fixed for all time to come. It was further provided that henceforth the proprietors would have no right to claim remission or suspension of revenue on account of any natural calamity and that if a proprietor failed to punctually pay the revenue within a stipulated date the whole or part of his zamiandari lands would be sold in auction. The strict execution of the Revenue Sale Law (popularly known as Sun-set Law) meant that many zamindaris were indeed sold in auction. A new set of people formerly engaged in trade and commerce and government and zamindari services became new zamindars. One objective behind the introduction of the Permanent Settlement was that as government demand on them would not be a variable one, the zamindars would invest capital for agricultural development. In other words, the expectation of Lord Cornwallis was that the magic touch of private property would inspire the zamindars to imitate their British counterparts. But this expectation was not fulfilled: neither the old zamindars nor the new ones took any initiative in investing capital in agriculture.

Many of the zamindars were not even ready to undertake the task of collecting rent from cultivating tenants or raiyats. Instead, they began shifting their landholding responsibilities to a class of perpetual rentiers, imposing on them the same terms and conditions as they themselves had agreed to fulfill under the Permanent Settlement. Tenurially, these rights stood between the zamindars and the raiyats, they were called madhyasatvas or intermediate property. Madhyasatva was as transferable and inheritable as zamindari svatva (right) was. Madhyastvas were broadly of two categories: pattani svatva and patitabad svatva. Pattani svatva was first invented by the Maharaja of Burdwan. He divided his vast estate into thousands of blocks, each of which was settled with an intermediary called pattanidar. The pattanidar created darpattanis (second grade) and dar-pattanidars, in turn, created se-pattani (third degree) and so on. This practice was followed by other zamindars. The Patitabad intermediary interests included those who were primarily responsible for the reclamation of wastelands in east Bengal districts. The zamindars created these intermediaries of various denominations and allowed them to invest capital in the reclamation of patit (cultivable waste) land in lieu of permanent rights in lands cleared.

Like pattani tenure, these patitabad tenures also developed multi-tiered structure with the local nomenclatures of talukdar, haoladar, nim-haoladar, gantidar, etc. However, it may be pointed out that only a certain part of the zamindari lands was affected by the growth of intermediaries. Secondly, the number of grades of intermediaries was never as high as the 50 grades suggested by the Indian Statutory Commission. The maximum was 12 in Bakerganj district. In other districts for which information is available, the number of grades was as follow: Dhaka (4), Jessore (6 or 7), Khulna (8), Bogra (10) and Mymensingh (3).

The zamindars or the original proprietors and the tenure-holders of all grades appropriated a large part of the agricultural surplus in the form of rent and a whole range of abwabs (illegal cesses). The volume of this surplus increased in two ways since 1793, the rate of rent was being enhanced, and additional lands were being brought under cultivation. But the state demand remained fixed. Some idea about the magnitude of this increase may be had from the fact that according to one estimate, in 1918/19 these proprietors and intermediaries intercepted as much as 76.7 percent of the gross rental of Rs 12.85 crores, paying only 2.99 crores to the state as land revenue. Incidentally, the Permanent Settlement envisaged that of the total amount collected as rent 90 percent would go to the treasury while zamindars would retain only 10 percent. Thriving on the gap between rent and revenue, proprietors and intermediaries formed the core of an expanding status group (known as Bhadralok) from which came the early generation of successful professionals in law, journalism, medicine, civil and the judicial services.

But the landlords did not invest a part of this surplus for improvement of agriculture. Herein lay the greatest drawback of the Permanent Settlement for, it enabled landlords to appropriate agricultural surplus without themselves playing any part in creating this surplus. The patitabad tenures played a productive role to the extent that these promoted the reclamation process. But by the early twentieth century, when reclamation activities had come to a virtual close, these intermediaries, like those in the other category as well as the original proprietors, became parasites. The Bengal Land Revenue Commission (popularly known as Floud Commission) appointed in 1938 by the provincial government, recommended the abolition of the Permanent Settlement. However, this recommendation was not implemented during the remaining years of the British rule.

The rights of the raiyats were never properly defined under the rules of the Permanent Settlement. On the other hand, their position was made even more vulnerable by the regulations of 1799, 1812, 1822 and 1844. All these regulations enormously increased landlords’ powers and subjected the peasantry to an increasing rent burden and to extreme insecurity in land rights. However, beginning from 1859 a series of legislative steps ware taken to improve the status of the tenants. As a result by 1938 raiyats were endowed virtually with all the rights of ownership inheritance, free transfer of land, security against eviction and enhancement of the rate of rent. Certain legal rights were granted even to the under-raiyats who held land under the raiyats.

Attempts were also made to grant certain rights to the bargadars or sharecroppers (their share of the produce being normally 50%) but predictably these attempts failed because of the opposition of the representatives of the rich peasants and landlords in the provincial legislature. Thus, by the close of British colonial rule, the tenurial system had become a very complex one. There was a group of rent-receiving zamindars and tenure-holders of different grades on the one hand, and ‘owner’ cultivators on the other. A tenure-holder of a certain grade was a landlord in relation to the tenure-holder immediately below him, but he was a tenant in relation to the zamindar or the tenure-holder above him, since as per law any one who received rent was a landlord while any one paying a rent was tenant. Similarly raiyats who received rent from the under-raiyats, strictly speaking, were also landlords. Again, though the landlords (ie, original zamindars and the intermediaries) primarily lived on their rental income, they also possessed a certain khas (demesne) land and had it cultivated with the help of sharecroppers and hired labour. The proportions of land, without any reference to the manner of their cultivation, under the possession of these different groups were as follow: landlords’ khas land (20%), raiyats (72%) and under-raiyats (8%).

As in ancient and medieval times, the peasant mode of cultivation was the dominant pattern. According to an estimate by the Bengal Land Revenue Commission (1938), the proportion of land operated by the members of the cultivator’s families was as high as 66 percent of the total. However, bargadars and agricultural labourers cultivated a significant part of the land. Once again, as per the findings of the Land Revenue Commission, 21 and 13 percent were operated respectively with the help of these two groups. In other words, there was considerable disparity in the distribution of agricultural land among different sections of rural families. On the one hand, there was a class of rich peasants who had more land than they could cultivate with the help of family labour. Such peasants therefore employed bargadars and/or hired labour. On the other hand, the size of holding ‘owned’ by the vast majority of the cultivators was so small that it could not provide employment to all the available labour. The same point is established by another set of findings of the Land Revenue Commission. Thus, while holdings above five acres in size accounted for only 25 percent of the total land in the province, holdings of less than two acres took up about two fifths (46 percent) of the total. Incidentally, the floud commission recommended that bargadars should get two-thirds instead of half the produce. A militant movement (known as Tebhaga) was launched in the closing years of the British rule for the implementation of this recommendation. But the movement failed to achieve its objective.

As mentioned earlier, the establishment of wider commercial intercourse with the outside world during the British rule marked the advent of cash economy in the rural areas on a much larger scale than in the past. The use of money assumed greater prominence even in areas or among sections of people, which remained relatively unaffected by the spread of commercialisation. However, as the credit agencies, which grew up in the changed circumstances almost exclusively, catered for the need of the export trade and domestic industries, the rural areas remained cut off from organised sources of finance.

Thus, with the functional mechanism of an economic structure remaining complete, a vacuum was created. This was filled by moneylenders who included mahajans, pathans, kabulis, merchants, landlords and rich peasants. The Co-operative Credit movement launched by the government in 1904 made limited progress, covering only a small section (10 percent in 1943) of the total agricultural borrowers. Thus moneylenders remained virtually the only source of credit. But most loans received from them were not used for directly productive purposes. Secondly, even when these were used for productive purposes, the expenditure was incurred for the purchase of traditional tools and implements and seeds, not for such inputs which would improve yield per acre over the existing level. Thirdly, the rate of interest charged by moneylenders was very high: 18 to 38 percent per annum on secured loans and much higher on unsecured loans. Indeed, from the turn of the twentieth century interest payments apparently began to exceed the total rental demand of the landlords. In any case, as a result of these three adverse factors a part of the borrowed money remained unpaid. A consequence was the problem of accumulation debt. According to the estimates of the Bengal Provincial Banking Enquiry Committee, the total volume of debts in 1929/30 was about 1000 million rupees. According to yet another estimate the volume of debts (without accumulated interest) stood at 960 million rupees in 1934.

As the worldwide economic crisis started in 1929 the problem of debts became very acute. For whereas agricultural prices nearly halved, the volume of debt remained at the same level. As a result, an urgent need was felt to provide relief to indebted agriculturists. (Incidentally, franchise was extended under the Government of India Act, 1935.) Accordingly, the Agriculturists Debtors Act was passed in 1936. Under this Act, Settlement Boards were set up in different parts of the province, especially in some East Bengal districts, to scale down the volume of debt to the repaying capacity of indebted families. By 1944 Debt Settlement Board reduced 50 crores of rural debts to 18 crores or rupees. Meanwhile, a Moneylender’s Act was passed in 1940 to regulate the rates of interest changed by moneylenders and check malpractice of this group. But despite these efforts agricultural debts in the province stood at 150 million rupees in 1945.

The stagnation in all-crop output during the last phase of the British rule continued for about two decades after its termination during which Bangladesh constituted part of Pakistan. This was so despite the fact that the Permanent Settlement which, in the words of the Bengal Land Revenue Commission (1938) ‘had stifled the enterprise and initiative of all classes of people’ was abolished by the State Acquisition Act of 1950. Cultivators were given proprietary rights in the land they cultivated. Then in the mid-1960s the government of erstwhile Pakistan launched a programme for accelerating agricultural, especially foodgrain, production through the adoption of ‘seed-water-fertiliser’ technology. The programme received further impetus after the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent state in 1971. Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation, the successor to East Pakistan Agricultural Development Corporation, was given the task of the procurement and distribution of irrigation pumps, fertilisers and improved varieties of seeds.

During the post-liberation period use of chemical fertilisers, the proportion of irrigation area and the rice land sown with improved varieties of seeds increased. At the same time, the volume of short, medium and long-term institutional credit provided especially by the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Bank (successor to the Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan) also expanded. But despite these initiatives all-crop output during 1967/70-1985/88 improved by only 1.53 percent per year and foodgrain output by 1.89 percent as against a population growth rate of 2.48 percent. Wheat production, however, increased by 15.1 percent. But a much lower rate of growth in the production of rice (1.96%) slowed down the growth rate in total foodgrains output. Thus, the objective of achieving self-sufficiency in food production was not fulfilled. During the same period (1967-88) the production of pulses and oilseeds declined respectively by 1.72 and 0.72 percent. On the other hand, jute production marginally increased (by 0.15%).

The use of commercial fertiliser and improved varieties of seeds as well as the proportion of irrigation area have further increased in the last decade, but Bangladesh is yet to achieve self-sufficiency in food production. This is clear from the fact that the production of rice has remained at about the same level (18 m tons) between 1990/91-1993/94 and 1994/95-1997/98. Incidentally, as in the ancient, medieval and British period, crop production continues to be the most important sub-sector, accounting for 72 percent of the total in 1997/98. The shares of other sub-sectors are as follow: forestry (7 percent), livestock (10 percent), and fishery (11 percent). Within the crop production sub-sector, rice is still the most important crop (it occupies three-fourths of the total acreage). Meanwhile, Bangladesh agriculture has experienced changes in several other ways. Jute cultivation has declined in the recent past, the net cropped area having declined from 20,977 thousand acres in 1973/74 to 19,401 thousand acres in 1996/97, although the area sown more than once has increased from 8,447 thousand acres in 1973/74 to 14,688 thousand acres in 1996/97. Agriculture’s contribution to GDP has declined from 60 percent in the pre-liberation days to about 30 percent in 1997/98.

From historical and current perspectives it must be pointed out that a major source of weakness for the entire economy and the agricultural sector in particular has been the absence of industrialisation efforts on a significant scale. Industrialisation efforts during British rule were virtually absent in the territories that today constitute Bangladesh. It remained weak during the Pakistan days. The pattern during post-1971 period has not been much different either. In a situation where net-cropped area is on the decline this absence of industrial development has meant increase (according to the findings of the census of Agriculture and Livestock) in the proportion of landless people from 17 percent in 1951 to 56.5 percent in 1983/84. The changing pattern of the distribution of the size of landholdings is also indicative of the increasing rate of pauperisation of peasant families in Bangladesh. The percentage of small farms has increased from 51.6 percent in 1960 to 79.9 percent in 1996. But the average size of a holding has declined from 1.11 acres to 0.9 acres during the same time. Most of the small farms are practically non-viable. On the other hand, both the proportions of medium and large holdings as well as the average size of these holdings have declined over the last 36 years. The Land Reforms Ordinance of 1984 reduced the ceiling for ownership of agricultural land to 60 standard bighas per family from 100 bighas in 1972. According to 1996 Agricultural Census, holdings of 15 acres and above account for only 0.4 percent of the total land of the country. This means that even if all the land above the stipulated ceiling is acquired by the government (this will be an extremely difficult task) the land thus available for re-distribution among the non-viable farms will be too insignificant. Therein lies the crux of the problem facing Bangladesh agriculture and, indeed, the whole economy.  [M Mufakharul Islam]

Bibliography Irfan Habib, Agrarian System of Mughal India 1526-1707, Bombay, 1963; Mufakharul Islam, Bengal Agriculture, 1920-26: A Quantitative Study, Cambridge, 1978; Kamrunnesa Islam, Aspects of Economic History of Bengal, Dhaka, 1984; Sugata Bose, Agrarian Bengal: Economy Social Structure and Politics, 1919-1947, Cambridge, 1986; Mosharraf Hossain, Agriculture in Bangladesh: Performance, Problems and Prospects, Dhaka, 1991.

Agricultural land

Agricultural land The total land area of Bangladesh is about 14.3 million ha, of which about 59.8% is available for cultivation. Depending on the flooding depth, the land is categorized as highland (20%), medium highland (39%), medium lowland (15%), lowland (8%) and very lowland (2%). Based on physical environment which are relevant to land use, the land is divided into 30 agroecological zones and 88 sub-regions.

All land areas are not suitable for all types of crops. Seasonally flooded land is suitable for rice cultivation but the use of HYVs is limited to areas with relatively shallow flood depth during the kharif season. Deep flooding for long periods limits land use to a single low yielding, deep-water rice crop. Most upland crops are grown in well-drained land. Boro is planted in poorly drained soils throughout the dry (rabi) season where irrigation can be provided and where no flooding will occur before the harvest of the crop.

Agricultural land use in coastal areas is limited to wet season cropping because of high dry season soil salinity and lack of suitable quality irrigation water. Cropping intensities, therefore, are low in coastal areas. Intensive cropping with HYVs is commonly practiced under high to medium highland with assured good quality irrigation water. Total cropped area is about 13.7 million ha, with more than 176% cropping intensity. Areas under single, double, and triple cropping are 3.5, 3.7 and 0.99 million ha, respectively. Rice alone covers about 77% of the total cropped area, of which HYV’s share is about 75%.

Agricultural land is fragmented into small pieces because of the large number of farm holdings. Total number of farm holdings is about 19 million; the average size of a holding is about 0.5 ha. In form, each holding consists of a few pieces of land which generally range from 0.1-0.2 ha.  [Nurul Islam Bhuiyan]

See also  agroecological zone.

Decline of agricultural land

Decline of agricultural land Human population in our country is increasing very first. For this reason, agricultural land is declining at an alarming rate. During the last decade of 80’s, only 15% land in rural areas were being used as devilling houses and non-agricultural /off farm activities, but now, it has been increased to 30%. During 1983-1984 the total cultivated area was 2 crore 2 lakh and 38 thousand acres. In 1996, it has been decreased to 1 crore, 74 lakh and 49 thousand acres. During the last 12 years, the agricultural land has been declining, on average, at the rate of about 1%. Per capita availability of land has normally been declining with the increase in population. Besides, with economic development the urbanization and industrialization is expanding. On top of that roads and highways, brickfields, hospitals, educational establishments, religions institutions and other infrastructure are simultaneously increasing. All these development infrastructures are snatching away the agricultural land. River erosion is also responsible for reducing the size of agricultural land. Recently, per availability of land is 0.17 acre. The normal living of a human being requires a minimum area of land, which is doubled than that of the presently available area.

The decline of per capital availability of land ultimately increases the shortage of food, magnitude of malnutrition and poverty. Due to intrusion of modern technology in agriculture, the output has been increased by thee times during the last 3 decades. As a result, shortage of food and poverty has been significantly reduced. But due to rapid population growth and gradually diminishing agricultural land, a notable increase in crop yield observed could not minimize the shortage of food. Every year, 20-30 lakh tons of food is being imported from abroad. To get rid of the dependency on others, gradual decrease of agricultural land and its vulnerability must be properly addressed. For this, precautionary measures should immediately be taken.

There have been several dialogues for many years on the issue of diminishing agricultural land, but no tangible and effective measures have so far been taken. The present Mohajoot  Government has taken this problem into active consideration. Recently, the topics has been discussed in the parliamentary standing committee for the Ministry of Agriculture and a decision was taken to stop the use the agricultural land for non-agricultural purpose.  Later on the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has also given a clear direction to this effect. Very recently, an ECNEC meeting that was chaired by Sheikh Hasina directed that for construction of  road and highways no soil be used cutting agricultural land or no soil  be used from agricultural land for brick fields.  For all these purposes, the Prime Minister advised to use the soil from river and canals. As a result, there will be a decrease in the use of agricultural land for non-agricultural purpose on the one had and navigation of rivers/canals will be re-stored resulting in better irrigation and relieve of drainage congestion. In this aspect, the intent ion of the present government to control spoiling of agricultural land and to preserve it is praise worthy.

There are many reasons for the decline of agricultural land and precautionary measures are of manifold. The main reason for per capita diminishing of agricultural land is population boom. For this, the universal joint families have been deviding leading to an increase in the number of households and a decrease in the area of landholding per family. During1960, the number of agricultural households was 61 lakh 39 thousand and in 1996, it has increased to 1 crore 17 lakh  97 thousand. During this span of time, the average area of agricultural land  reduced from 3.54  to 1.71 acres. The present size of agricultural land is in no way helpful to modern cultivation of crops. Therefore, the decline of landholding size and per capita availability of land must be checked through population control. Now, in Bangladesh, the rate of population growth is 1.5 percent. It should be brought down to zero percent. For this, people should be motivated that requires political commitment. One extension worker may diffuse his information to 10, 20, or 30 persons at a time, while a politician leader can diffuse it to hundred thousand people at a time. The national leadership should realize this.

In one estimate, it was observed that 35% land of the country is very suitable for agricultural crop production, 40% is medium type while 25% land is less fit for agricultural crop production. To feed the increasing population, the best agricultural land must be preserved. For non-agricultural activity, the less fertile agricultural land may be recommended. The small sized industries and business centers must be established surrounding rural growth canters. Besides, multistoried dwelling houses should be constructed in a planned way in the sides of roads in a particular place. For rural housing, if possible, government should come forward to patronize it. For this purpose, easy and soft loan provisions should be made. The village areas should be demarcated as residential, industrial and agricultural land. For this, land-zoning map should be prepared.  The similar pattern should be followed in city areas. The place of mosques, temple, schools and colleges and playgrounds should be demarcated. Careful attention should be given so that none can violet the land-zoning map while constructing a new establishment.

Decreasing soil fertility is one of the reasons for decreasing yield of crops. Because of unbalanced use of fertilizers and pesticides, growing same crops in a field once and again and high intensity of cropping have been causing diminishing yield of crops. To revert this situation, the use of alluvium soil and manures should be used. Wherever irrigation and drainage are needed should be properly used. Besides, abandoned rural land should be brought under agricultural crop production. At the same time, forest land, small hills and water bodies should be fully preserved so that environment is not affected.

In our country deforestation is going on at an alarming rate. Reserve forests are being made deserts through cutting of plants desperately. This should be taken care of properly. Aforestation should be maintained to keep the environment clean from pollution. Besides, hilly land are being destroyed through Jum – cultivation and displacement of settlers. For this, the jum cultivators may be permanently settled in a particular place. At present, new char-land is available in the coastal areas of Bangladesh. This new char-land by reclamation may be brought under crop cultivation.

In our country, many lands are acquired for educational institutions, industrial establishments and development activities. In most of the cases, excess lands are being acquired.  As a result, many agricultural land go out of crop cultivation. But the excess land remains unutilized for years together. In our country, utilization of land acquired for industrial purpose is very disappointing. In one estimate it was observed that the land that was acquired for different development works, 25% of those remained under utilized. It is in fact a great loss of land, which should be controlled carefully. In the case of irrigated land, the process of acquiring should be totally prohibited. A piece of land where double crop is practiced should not be allowed to establish a brickfield or any personal use. The acquisition of land should be kept as minimum as possible either by government or by individual concern. The preference to acquire land should be given more on government khas land, while the un-utilized acquired land should be given back to original owner.

In Bangladesh, there are many roads that were not at all needed. One influential person for his own advantage might have made the road in the yard of his dwelling houses using government money. Such examples are observed very frequently many where in Bangladesh. This type of mentality should be discouraged. Besides, multi-purpose use of flood control embankments, highway sides, yards of schools and colleges, local water bodies etc. should be ensured. These lands should be used for cultivation of folder, transplantation of fruit trees, rearing of livestock and poultry, culture of fish etc. that will increase the agricultural productivity leading to alleviation of poverty and creation of employment opportunities for the rural community.

From the British regime, many land laws were promulgated, a part of which is still essential or some of them may be traditional and redundant. The experts should review these laws. Depending on the review, a new land utilization policy may be adopted through which the use of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes can be forbidden ensuring best utilization of land.  [Jahangir Alam]

Agricultural biodiversity

Agricultural biodiversity Biological resources that are used in the agricultural programmes of a region. The general agroecological variations of Bangladesh range from below sea level-basins to small hills flanked by the large hills of the Indian subcontinent. The landmass of the country is mostly of delta formations. People of the area have come from various socio-ecological positions of the sub-continent as well as from other continents of the world. People over the centuries have been cultivating, preserving, and using more than 1364 plant species coming from both endemic and exotic origins, for about 85 diverse uses. There are about 175 species of medicinal herbs. Ethnic groups, distributed in different areas, have been involved, over centuries, in collecting and preserving the highly rich biodiversity to meet their needs. Many varieties of rice, jute, sugarcane, cotton, linseed, mustard, cucumber, beans, gourds, banana, mango, bel, brinjal, dewa, berry, haritaki, amlaki, bahera, ginger, turmeric, etc have also been selected and raised by the people who have been living in this area for about 8-10 thousand years. Females cultivate a fairly large number of flora in their homesteads and cultivated lands to meet their needs. Many families as professions practice herbal medication.

The biodiversity in rice is high. There were about 10,000 varieties in the country. By 1974, the recorded number of collection of rice plant genetic resource was about 7439. Of these, only 63 are rice, 18 were developed through hybridization, while the rest received simple pure line selection. At present, out of pure line selections only 22 are in use by farmers, and there are 37 modern varieties. In the Sundarbans and the Chittagong Hill Tracts, three wild species of rice have been identified. The low basin areas of Gopalganj and Sythet are considered to be the centre of origin of the deepwater rice varieties. Also many other rice varieties have originated from the land races selected from different areas of the country. Today, many of the indigenous rice varieties have been lost due to the introduction of HYVs mainly for economic considerations.

Wheat (Triticum aestivum) is now the second staple food crop of the country. Except for one indigenous strain all the plant genetic resources (15,730) of common wheat have been introduced to the region, and locally developed a few breeding lines. This indicates how the introduction of a species in a geographical area can have a positive impact when its domestication can lead to increased production and diversity.

Most minor cereals are of endemic nature. There are a small number of foxtail millets, proso millets, and others. In case of jute there are 958 accessions of Corchorus capsularis. The species Corchorus olitorius was imported. These foreign plant genetic resources have put pressure on the tree cotton species of Bangladeshi origins, which have almost been eroded.

Most oilseed crops have been selected and developed out of the land races available in this part of the world. There are 10 annual crop species having more than 1200 plant genetic resource (PGR), many of which produce oils and fats of different nature. mustard and rapeseed are two important groups and are covered by Brassica campestris and B. juncea of both endemic and exotic origins. About 500 PGR of the species that are available are being used for development of newer varieties. In addition to these, B. napus, B. carinata and B. nigra were introduced to Bangladesh during the early 1970s. groundnut (420), soybean (145), and sesame (132) are the three other species that have high PGR under collection and utilization. Soybeans of American types were introduced to Bangladesh during the early 1970s. American soybean has large variations even from its original PGR of China. Wild indigenous soybean PGR are to be found in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. There are numerous tree species that produce fats and oils, including the recently introduced oil palm.

In case of pulses, including important food legumes, there has been considerable selection from amongst the natural variants available in this part of the world. Collection records indicate that out of 7099 PGR, 3463 are of local origin from 8 species. The rest were imported; many of them have been found to perform well and have been adapted to this system of production. The species where more exotic materials have been introduced are lentil, chickpea, mungbean, and black gram.

Bangladesh is close to the centre of origin of sugarcane which in its travel route to India and Pakistan has yielded many genetic resources. A total of 459 Saccharum officinarum and 26 S. spontaneum PGR have been recorded by the bangladesh sugarcane research institute alone. There are no other important sugar crops, although some PGR of sugar beet is available. A large quantity of date palm sugar in the form of molasses or ‘Gur’ is produced every year. There are about 24 species of PGR that provide nectars to bees for production of honey. A large volume of honey is produced every year and used as a substitute for sugar.

There are 33 common fruit species with high number of PGR. The highly diverse species are mango, pomelo, guava and jackfruit. In total 463 variants of these species have been recorded in different institutes and orchards. The minor fruits usually come from 54 species that have 298 variants, of which 207 are of local origin. There are 52 species of fruit trees in the country that are wild in nature. There are three types of PGR that produce vegetables from roots and tubers (11 species), leaves (8 species), and fruits (20 species). These 39 species have more than 1000 PGR, indicating that the variation is high due to selections of materials in different niches of agroecological zones that depend on the choice of the selectors and the consumers. For example, each of the brinjal, tomato, radish, bottle gourd, water melon, sweet gourd, country bean, stem amaranth and other vegetables has at least 5-6 commercial varieties.

There are at least 17 species that produce variable types of spices and 21 more species, which produce food colours of various types. In only 9 species that produce spices and food colours, there are 303 PGR, many of which need to be preserved for future use. The species diversity of floricultural plants in this country is quite high. There are 22, 26, 81, 18, 217, 396, 15 and 24 species of ornamentals, orchids, conservatory plants, aquatic plants, rose, arboratum and microflora (77 family and 253 genera), cactus and rocky, and wall plants respectively. In fact, as many as 781 species and varieties of diverse PGR belong to this group. Many of these species are indigenous; while some were imported. Most of the roses and cactus, and a good number of orchids, ornamentals, and conservatory PGR are of exotic nature.

tea is one of the most important cash crops of the country. The PGR records of this crop show that local collections of clones are 246, and introduced varieties amount to 28. The bangladesh tea research institute has been maintaining only 28 local and 17 exotic clones for commercial exploitation. Coffee has three species but is not a commercial crop in this country. In Bangladesh, the PGR of conventional forest species have spread over to the social and agroforestry systems due to high limitations of the forest land areas and low man-land ratio. Therefore, species diversity of trees usually grown in forests can be seen all over the country. In recent years there has been extra emphasis on the plantations of trees in homesteads, public places and crop fields. The recorded information on tree species is variable. Twenty-four species produce timbers that are used mostly for furniture. Tree species used for making agricultural equipment; boats, trawlers and ships; paper pulp and paper are 24, 52, and 30 respectively. It has been observed that many species are used for bridge construction, railway sleepers, carts and carriages, transports, electric poles, piling and jetty constructions. There are numerous homestead tree species that the people of Bangladesh use for different purposes and many of these can be used for more than one purpose.  [Lutfur Rahman]

See also  cotton; fruit; jute; rice; tea; wheat.

Production of major crops

Production of major crops Bangladesh is endowed with a climate favourable for the cultivation of a wide variety of both tropical and temperate crops. Though nearly 100 different kinds of crops are presently grown in Bangladesh, rice is the principal one which grows in all the three crop growing seasons of the year and covers about 77 percent of the total cropped area of about 13.7 million ha. High yielding varieties cover about 75 percent of the total rice area. Other important crops are wheat, jute, potato, oilseeds, pulses, tobacco, cotton, sugarcane, fruits, and vegetables. Crops in Bangladesh are grown both under rainfed and irrigated conditions. However, rainfed agriculture is dominant, since nearly 60 percent of the net sown area is dependent upon rain as a source of water for crop production. Traditional practices, local varieties, and low levels of inputs and management are associated with rainfed agriculture. Productivity in general is low, and year to year fluctuation in production is large. Both moisture deficiency and excesses of rain contribute to instability in agricultural production.

Irrigated agriculture is usually associated with improved technologies like HYV’s, high fertiliser doses, and improved management practices. Consequently, the productivity of irrigated agriculture is high, and more or less stable with an assured water supply.

Table 1 Area and production of the major crops (Average of 3 years: 2004/2007).

Crops Area (000 m ton) Production (000 ha)
Rice (total) 10.495 26,335
Wheat 479 816
Maize 105 593
Potato 324 4728
Jute 404 819 (bales)
Sugarcane 153 5910
Pulses (as group) 350 289
Oil seeds (as group) 344 643
Spices and condiments 324 1196
Tobacco 31 41

Source Yearbook of Agricultural Statistics of Bangladesh, 2007.

According to the crop statistics of 1994/95 as published in BBS, 1997, total cropped area, total production including vegetables, fruits, and other minor crops and their total values were about 13.4 million ha, 34 m tons, and Taka 250 billion respectively.  [Nurul Islam Bhiuyan]

Cropping pattern

Cropping pattern A spatial and temporal arrangement of crops within a cropping year, largely determined by physical, biological, and socio-economic factors. There are three cropping seasons (Rabi, Kharif-I or Pre-Kharif, and Kharif-II) during a year in Bangladesh. Since rice is the major crop, it dominates the cropping patterns of Bangladesh. Depending on the land type, soil characteristics, and water availability, rice cropping may be single, double, or triple. In general, double or triple rice cropping is practised in high land areas. In medium lowlands, mixed cropping of Aus and broadcast Aman is a common practice, while in deeply flooded lands, single cropping of broadcast Aman (deepwater rice) in Kharif, or Boro in Rabi, is the common practice. Non-rice crops are generally grown as a sequential or intercrop with rice. Most non-rice crops are dryland crops, although some crops like jute (Deshi type), millets (Kaon), and sugarcane can tolerate some degree of submergence at later stages of growth. Jute is grown in the Kharif-I season, competes with Boro Aus for land, and is considered a substitute crop for Boro Aus in cropping patterns. The dry (Rabi) season crops included in cropping patterns may be early, middle, or late, depending upon land types, recessions of floods, and dates of harvests of the preceding crops.

In rainfed-dryland areas, growing of drought-tolerant, short-duration crop species has been an important feature. Although high crop yields have been difficult to obtain, traditional cropping patterns usually exhibit a high degree of stability. Another important feature is the extensive use of mixed cropping and intercropping of annual crops. These practices provide farmers with opportunities for harvesting diverse crops from the same land, increasing total land productivity, and maintaining and improving soil fertility through the use of legumes. Boro, Aus, jute, maize, barley, and chickpea are the most important rainfed dryland crops. When more than two crops are included in the pattern, mixed cropping, intercropping, or relay cropping are practised.

A large number of cropping patterns are generally practised in Bangladesh, depending on the crop production environment which is greatly influenced by land type, soil texture, flooding regimes, rainfall (amount and distribution) and resource base of the farmers. Some dominant cropping patterns under variable crop production environments are as follows:

Rabi Kharif-I Kharif-II
Rainfed condition Wheat/Potato/Pulses/Oilseeds/Sugarcane Boro Aus/Jute Fallow
Irrigated condition Wheat/Boro/Wheat/Potato/Tobacco/Vegetables Fallow T Aus T Aman Fallow

Farmers for better use of soil resources, although not always executed as planned, follow crop rotations, to some extent. Generally deep-rooted crops (jute) are grown after shallow rooted crops (rice).  [Nurul Islam Bhuiyan]

Agricultural labour

Agricultural labour The mainstream of rural working class rendering physical labour to carry out various agricultural activities growing crops, rearing livestock and poultry, looking after fisheries or raising trees. Before British rule in India there was no organised agricultural labour market and no provision of wage labour in agriculture. Landlords then usually distributed their land to sharecroppers (bargadars). Sometimes they themselves cultivated a part of their land with the help of slaves, perennial labourers (on annual contract), or hired labourers paid in kind and also by free board and lodging. Sharecroppers and small cultivators engaged family members and, in addition, had to adopt the practice of labour exchange (locally known as badla, gantu, etc) on the principle of strict reciprocity. Slavery was abolished through enacting a law in 1843. Exchange of labour was more prevalent till the early 1900s, when increased landlessness and introduction of cash economy replaced the system of exchange by hiring on payment. From this time, labour was paid in kind, at least partially, and the system is still in practice in rural areas.

According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, out of 56.0 million civilian labour force of Bangladesh, in 1995/96, 34.5 million (63.2%) were engaged in agriculture. Of the total agricultural labour force, 18% were paid day-labourers. The rest comprised the cultivators themselves and unpaid family workers. There was a remarkable increase in the number of agricultural labour force in 1990/91 (33.3 million) and 1995/96 (34.3 million), compared to 1985/86 (17.5 million). This increase was due to change in agricultural activities, which encompassed operations like animal husbandry, poultry, threshing, boiling, drying and husking crops and processing and preserving food. The rural women usually carry out these agricultural activities. Children constitute a substantial part of agricultural labour. About 1.6 million working children (63% of the employed child labour) were engaged in agriculture in Bangladesh during 1995/96. With the increase in the population of the country, the total number of agricultural labourers is increasing, but the rate of employment in the agricultural sector compared to that in the non-agricultural sector is decreasing. In 1989, 73.8% of the total manpower were employed in agriculture but the figure came down to 63.2% in 1995/96, while for non-agricultural sector it increased from 26.2% to 36.8%. Since the scope for non-agricultural employment was limited in the past and the rate of literacy in the country was poor, agriculture was burdened with a huge illiterate and unskilled manpower. With the expansion of education and urbanization at present, the scenario is being gradually changed.

The land tenure system introduced during the British rule rapidly increased the number of landless people, who in most cases ultimately turned into agricultural day-labourers. Forced by repeated famines, British rulers took a number of steps for the development of agriculture, but all the efforts targeted the landed cultivators, not the landless day-labourers. About 26% of the rural households subsisted on labour as their only or principal occupation, while another 13% took it as a secondary source of income. Thus, 13 million rural Bengalis were fully or partially dependent on wage labour. In 1900, about 6,00,000 rural people (7% of the total rural population) of Bengal had labour as the primary occupation. By the early 1970s, this had increased twelve folds to about 7,200,000 people (27%). The Master Survey of Agriculture (1965/66) conducted by the government of East Pakistan disclosed that 25% of the cultivators earned wages for their labour, while three-fifths of these wage-earning cultivators were landless. The common trend was that of an increase of waged agricultural labourers. There were also regional differences in wage and mobility of the labourers.

Three types of labour relations have co-existed in rural Bengal: casual day-labour, annual contract labour and seasonal labour. Casual day-labour is the shortest contract and varies from half a day (or one ‘bela’) to several days (usually one hat period that is the period between two ‘hat’ days). Casual employment provides labourers with the greatest freedom and also with the greatest insecurity. Day-labourers benefit from wage hikes in the busy season but also have to suffer starvation during the slack season. Annual contract labourers stay at the employers’ house and get cash wage and also food and clothing. Young boys begin with just food and clothing. In some cases, annual contract labourers are bonded with some kind of debtal slavery and work for the employers to repay their debt. Seasonal labourers are engaged for 2 to 4 months during the winter season, usually for harvesting crops. They migrate from one region to another. They receive wages in the form of food and paddy or cash. The paddy component is often a share of the crop harvested and varies between one-twelfth and one-fifth. In the past, working conditions for waged labourers were almost uniform throughout Bengal, although there were regional difference in wage levels and modes of wage payment. In most places the greater part of the wage was paid in cash, although a mid-day meal of rice and side dishes was provided by the employers. A morning snack of puffed rice or water soaked rice (panta bhat), betel leaf and nut, and green coconut was also provided. Women were paid less, usually in kind, and the amount was one-tenth of the production as a husker or thresher. Santals, bauris and other tribal women were the most hard working labourers.

The wage of agricultural labour throughout Bengal declined during 1880 to 1980. Wages were standardised with rice in amounts varying between 2 sher (1 sher=0.9 kg) in West Bengal and 9 sher in East Bengal. The wage level has significantly increased during recent years. This is mainly due to increased job opportunities with the introduction of improved labour intensive agricultural practices and with mass-scale migration of agricultural labourers to urban areas in quest of higher income opportunities. Food for Work, Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) programmes, land reforms, creation of cluster villages in khaslands (common), distribution of easy loans, and promotion of income oriented activities by the government and NGOs are now helping agricultural labourers to improve their conditions.

Agricultural credit

Agricultural credit The financial support received by the farmers as loans from institutional and non-institutional sources to meet the expenses of various agricultural activities. Farmers require funding support also to recover losses due to failure of crops due to natural calamities (floods, droughts, cyclones, tidal bores or river erosion) and damage due to insect pests and diseases. This support is provided by institutions like banks, NGOs, traditional moneylenders (mahajans, beparis, rich farmers) or friends and relatives. Indebtedness of peasants in Bengal has long been a phenomenon caused by shortage of cash funds in paying the land revenue or in meeting additional tax levies. Extra expenses incurred in observance of rites of marriage and bereavement or in prosecuting disputes also cause indebtedness.

The practice of farmers receiving credit from mahajans existed even in Vedic India (2000 BC to 1150 AD). The Arthasastra of Kautilya provides an elaborate account of the ancient moneylending system. References to moneylending are also found in the writing of Manu. The idea of formal banking was first spread in the subcontinent by Muslim traders from Baghdad during the Abbaside period. The growing trade of Bengal and the resultant increase in the circulation of money during the Mughal period led to the development of banking. In cooperation with the mahajans, the Mughals established the Hindustan Bank in 1700. This was the first banking institution set up in the subcontinent. The farmers who were at a remove from trade and commerce-oriented banking were left with informal sources like moneylenders, village merchants (mahajans) and shopkeepers who charged interest at exorbitant rates and had emerged as the wealthy section of the society.

During the Sultanate and Mughal periods, rulers granted lower revenue rates and provided agricultural credit to farmers. Widely known as Taccavi, such loans enabled poor peasants to buy seed, bullocks, agricultural tools and implements, and enabled them to boost production by bringing new land under cultivation through reclamation. The Permanent Settlement introduced by Lord Cornwallis in 1793 was also aimed at solving credit problems in agriculture. It was hoped that zamindars who were granted proprietary rights on zamindari lands would be induced to invest capital for agricultural development. The British rulers took initiatives for the development of formal banking in the subcontinent to reduce dependence on non-institutional moneylenders.

The newly developed credit agencies served the trade and commerce of urban areas exclusively. Thus such organised sources of finance did not reach villages, which came under immense cash economy at that time. The ‘Cooperative Credit Movement’ launched by the British rulers in 1904 covered a small section of agricultural borrowers. Merchants-moneylenders used to make double profit from the debtor farmers, who not only had to pay regular interest but also had to sell their produce to the creditors. This type of obligation kept the growers away from competitive markets and deprived them from getting the proper price. In some parts of Bengal, especially in Dhaka, landlords were also involved in the moneylending business, posing a serious threat to the stability of agricultural system. Landlords-cum-moneylenders could exert two fold pressure on the debtor-peasants by dictating the terms of credit and at the same time by making them pay rents and debts. Rich peasants were usually found giving paddy loans for both consumption and seeds which the borrower-cultivators had to repay after harvests. Such loans could be repaid in terms of cash or in kind on the basis of the real value of the grain borrowed.

There were a good number of alien moneylenders like Kabulis and Marwaris, who had taken up this profession with great success. With the emergence of new credit agencies, these expatriate sources of credit gradually disappeared during the 1930s. In many parts of Bengal there were organised moneylenders on banias who formed a community by caste. Among the bania community, Sahas and Suvarna Vaniks were the most influential sections who even grabbed the lands of the raiyats through moneylending.

Exploitation by moneylenders climaxed in the Great Depression of 1928, when drastic fall of prices of agricultural produces like rice and jute reduced the income of the farmers as well as the availability of credit. The rich moneylenders availed the opportunity and grabbed the lands of the indebted cultivators. A considerable amount of land was transferred in this way from cultivating farmers to non-cultivating groups, which ultimately affected total agricultural output. ‘The Bengal Provincial Banking Enquiry Committee Report’ revealed that the total volume of outstanding debts of the indebted farmers of Bengal in 1929/30 was about 1000 million rupees. The Bengal Board of Economic Enquiry found out that 77% families of Bengal in 1934 were indebted. The indebted peasants started launching movements in many places. Communist leaders often played leading roles in these demonstrations. As interest and usury were strictly prohibited in Islam, sometimes these movements turned into communal conflicts. There were clashes in many places between Muslims and mahajans who were mostly Hindu by religion, though some Muslims also used to practice lending under the dadni system.

Various surveys conducted following ‘The Great Depression’ advocated a number of measures to free cultivators from the vicious cycle of indebtedness. Meanwhile, the Government of India Act of 1935 extended the franchise to farmers, which added a new dimension to the prevailing political environment in Bengal. The political parties focused on the mounting problem of indebtedness and used their campaigns for winning popular votes. Under political pressure, the Legislative Council enacted the Bengal Agricultural Debtors Act in 1935 that prescribed establishment of Debt Settlement Boards in every union consisting of local leaders. But these boards were not able to work properly because most of the debts were covered by usufructuary mortgage.

The government amended the Bengal Tenancy Act in 1938 for better functioning of the Debt Settlement Boards and declared all mortgages as void. According to the amended Act, the owner would get his land back after 15 years as most of the net debt (principal) as well as the interest would be cleared off. The Bengal Moneylending Act of 1933 was also amended in 1940 to regulate the rates of interest charged by moneylenders. Though operations of the Settlement Boards had temporarily eased the stifled situation, the amended act ultimately blocked agricultural production due to lack of credit since moneylenders suspicious of recovery were not ready to continue their lending business. Legislative measures were imposed without opening up any alternative channel of finance to meet the demand of the cultivators. As the creditors were not interested in mortgage, the farmers had to sell their land to manage cash money. Frequent transfer of lands resulted in the fragmentation and subdivision of lands and ultimately landlesness. The activities of the Debt Settlement Boards were finally winded up in 1945.

Between 1947 and 1971, a network of institutional banking developed in East Pakistan with 36 scheduled banks, many of which provided agricultural credit facilities. A specialised bank on agricultural credit called The Pakistan Agricultural Development Bank was established in 1961. Some other local participatory rural credit mechanisms including the Comilla Cooperative Model (1959) emerged during this period and played a pioneering role in the distribution of agricultural credit on easy terms.

After independence, the government attempted to reinforce the national economy by mobilising more resources as agricultural credit to meet the increasing need of farmers. More branches of nationalised banks and agencies were set up in rural areas. Thus specialised banks like the bangladesh krishi bank (BKB), rajshahi krishi unnayan bank (RAKUB), Bangladesh Cooperative Bank, four commercial banks (the sonali bank limited, janata bank limited, agrani bank limited and rupali bank limited), and the Bangladesh Rural Development Board (BRDB) were used to meet the needs of farmers. These banks and the BRDB had disbursed about Tk 30.06 billion and 28.51 billion throughout the country in fiscal year 1998/1999 and 1999/2000 respectively.

Branches of BKB and RAKUB that deal with more than 60% of the government allocated agricultural credit are now being set up in every union of the country. Short, mid and long-term credit are being granted to the farmers to help them in various activities such as growing seasonal crops, buying bullock or agricultural machinery, or establishing poultry or dairy farms. Some special programmes are also being undertaken for landless and marginal farmers and rural women. In the year 1999/2000, a total of Tk 1.23 billion was disbursed as collateral free microcredit to finance 17 such special programmes. All the programmes aim at alleviating poverty, and cover 25% of the total agricultural credit distributed by the government, while crop production claims 60%. The Rate of interest for loans under these programmes ranges from 10 to 15%.

Though a good portion of the agricultural loan earmarked by the government remain undistributed every year (Tk 2.64 billion and 4.79 billion in 1998/99 and 1999/2000, respectively), many needy farmers are not able to avail of loans because of clumsy procedures and the collateral problem. Moreover, damage of crops due to natural calamities and irresponsible use of credit sometimes make debtor peasants bankrupt. As a result the non-repayment of agricultural credit (Tk 65.25 billion on 30 June 2000) has emerged as a great national problem.

Established in 1983, grameen bank began a non-conventional microcredit programme to provide collateral-free loans to the impoverished. The borrowers are required to join the bank in self-formed groups of five. If a member fails to repay a loan, all members risk having their line of credit suspended or reduced. Group members provide one another with mutual assistance and advice to ensure individual repayment. Although, Grameen Bank charges a rate of interest higher than other banks, it has emerged as a successful model of rural development, incorporating agriculture and other income generating activities and subsiding the usual problem of loan defaults. Under the micro-credit programmes of the Grameen Bank its clients, mostly women, are getting involved in small businesses like rearing poultry or dairy cattle, pisciculture, horticulture or cottage industries, and are becoming self-reliant. Many other NGOs have also undertaken similar microcredit programme. Grameen Bank and three prominent NGOs, brac, asa and proshika had distributed Tk 39.15 billion in 1999/2000 and recovered an outstanding loan of Tk 39.43 billion during the same year. Loans outstanding on the balance of these organisations totaled Tk 2.5 billion in June 2000.

Private banks, both local and foreign, are also now granting agricultural credit. Total loans disbursed by local private banks during 1994/95 was Tk 518.70 million. The amount rose to 2.5 billion in 1999/2000. The figures on agricultural loan provided by foreign banks were Tk 441.20 million in 1998/99 and Tk 3.71 billion in 1999/2000. In addition, professional cooperative associations granted loan to members out of their own savings. These cooperatives are Co-operative Land Mortgage Bank, Union Multipurpose Co-operative Societies, Fishermen Co-operative Societies, Sugarcane Growers Co-operative Societies, Agricultural Co-operative Societies (Dept.), Agricultural Co-operative Societies (BRDB), Milk Co-operative Societies, Landless Farmer Co-operative Societies, Khamar (Farm) Co-operative Societies, Oil Producer Co-operative Societies, Pan (Betel leaf) Cultivator Co-operative Societies, and Groundnut Co-operative Societies. The loans disbursed by these cooperatives to their 5.22 million members amounted to about Tk 9.8 billion in 1996/97.

Formulated in 1999, the National Agricultural Policy has attached due emphasis to the availability of institutional agricultural credit in time, to activating national, district, upazila and union level committees, and to simplifying the credit disbursement system. Banks and financial institutions have been asked to maintain a balance between simplification strategy and credit recovery and to ensure recovery of the disbursed credit.

Agricultural marketing

Agricultural marketing The mechanism to reach agricultural products, inputs and services to target groups, including producers, consumers and intermediaries. A huge number of people are engaged in the marketing of agricultural products like rice, jute, vegetables, fruits, cattle, milk, poultry, eggs and fish. The history of agricultural marketing is as old as agriculture. Exchange of commodities had been prevalent in Bengal’s agrarian society but the reinforcement of cash economy during British rule made agricultural marketing easier and eliminated many of the problems of conversion. As peasants are very responsive to the fluctuations of market prices of crops, the cropping patterns of an area depend to a great extent on the marketing of crops. From time immemorial, farmers were found shifting their priorities regarding selection of crops and in assessing their comparative profitability. Cotton was a promising crop of Bengal during the seventeenth and eighteenth century because Bengal at that time was one of the world’s major exporters of textiles. But cotton started losing its market with a decline in textile exports since the early nineteenth century and cotton production came down to a very low level towards the mid-nineteenth century.

Indigo was another produce to emerge with a significant potential at one point but failed to hold the market for long. Cultivation of indigo declined since the 1850s, when, the native crop jute began capturing market to become a major cash crop of Bengal. Jute is still a major crop of Bangladesh involving large number of people in its marketing and manufacturing, but it is not as profitable produce now as it was in the past. The British rulers, in view of its strained relation with China, encouraged the cultivation of two import substitution crops, tea and opium during the first half of nineteenth century. Though tea has continued to be profitable since then, opium was replaced by profitable alternatives like oilseeds, cereals and potato just after the sepoy revolt (1857). Sugarcane was a profitable crop for a long time but was threatened by the rapid growth of the sugar industry in Europe during the second half of the nineteenth century.

As most farm families in Bangladesh own very limited land, they grow just enough crops to meet their own needs. About 53% households of the country having 0.05-2.49 acres of land produce at the subsistence level. Major contributors in the supply of agricultural produce in the market are the medium (2.5-7.49 acres) and large (7.50 acres and above) farmers, who are only 11.7% and 1.7% of the farming community respectively. The institutional network to deal with marketing of even major commodities such as rice, jute, cotton, sugarcane and tea is not adequate in the country. The Department of Food, Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation, sugar mills and the Cotton Board maintain their own purchase centres. But most agricultural produces reach consumers through various types of middlemen. The Department of Agricultural Marketing, a government agency, has the responsibility of ensuring fair prices of agricultural commodities for both buyers and consumers. The department has a total manpower of 375 and advises the government in this regard. The agricultural produces exported from Bangladesh include prawns and shrimps, tea, raw jute, vegetables, and spices. The country received $133 million from exports of these items during 1998/99. Agriculture based manufactured commodities like jute goods, raw hides and skins, leather and leather manufacture, and frozen foods also constitute a good portion of the country’s export trade.

In its agricultural policy announced in 1999, the government of Bangladesh came up with various strategies for the development of agricultural marketing. Emphasis was laid on establishing a proper marketing network to facilitate timely marketing of farm produce. The policy also identified certain steps to reduce the control of middlemen and to ensure fair prices of crops for both growers and consumers. The agricultural policy, first of its kind in the country, had pleaded for the development of agricultural industries that was neglected during the periods under British and Pakistan rule.

To the British, Bengal was just a supplier of raw materials as well as a readymade market for their manufactured goods. The commercial value of an agricultural commodity at one time, therefore, varied depending on its usefulness to the British manufacturers. The Pakistani rulers took initiative for the agriculture based industrialization but those industries were set up to serve the interest of urban groups, and not farmers. At that time, compulsory procurement of rice at below market prices and imposition of excessive taxes on the export of jute was bitterly criticized. The East Pakistan Agricultural Development Corporation (now bangladesh agricultural development corporation/BADC), established during the 1960s, played a pioneering role in the distribution of agricultural inputs. Seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, and agricultural machinery procured under government control were distributed to district and thana level licensed dealers who delivered these items to the farmers at a government-determined price while their income was established as a pre-fixed commission. These policies of marketing of agricultural produces as well as inputs were changed drastically after the independence. During the last three decades, the government winded up control and shifted to an open market economy and encouraged private initiatives in the procurement and distribution of agricultural inputs and food grains. Export led industries are now being favoured to compete in the international market. To support local entrepreneurs, the government is encouraging imports of various inputs and equipment relating to poultry and dairy industries, but not milk and other dairy products.  [M Saifullah]

Agricultural policy

Agricultural policy A set of pre-decided principles to be followed through planned and systematic manipulation of natural resources like soil and water for the sustained development of agriculture. Agriculture was the main source of government income in Bengal from the ancient period but the rulers of ancient, medieval, and the British periods paid very little attention to the development of agriculture. Agriculture in Bengal got an institutional framework with the introduction of the permanent settlement during British rule. Under the permanent settlement zamindars became proprietors of the land against payment of a fixed annual amount of land tax on a regular basis. The law barred zamindars from appealing for remission or suspension of taxes on the ground of any natural calamity and stipulated that in the case of a zamindar’s failure to pay the tax in due time, his estate would be sold in auctions. The Permanent Settlement was designed to enhance agricultural output with the help and supervision of zamindars. This objective, however, was rarely fulfilled.

Repeated famines and an acute shortfall of income from land revenue ultimately forced the British government to form a number of commissions and committees, which forwarded various recommendations for the development of Bengal’s agriculture. These included abolition of the permanent settlement, scaling down the volume of debts to the repaying capacities of the indebted families, allowing sharecroppers to retain two-thirds of their produce, building up necessary infrastructure for agricultural education, research, training and extension, launching co-operative movement, etc. A number of important organisations and institutions were established as a result of the implementation of some of these recommendations. Among these are the Cooperative Credit Movement (1904), Department of Agriculture (1906), Agricultural Research Laboratory (1908), Debt Settlement Board (1936) and Bengal Agricultural Institute (1938).

The Permanent Settlement was abolished by the State Acquisition Act of 1950 during the Pakistan Period when cultivators were given proprietary rights on the land they cultivated. The Pakistan government, however, paid little attention to agriculture largely, because an urban groups dominated in the policy formulating bodies and the economic policy formulation was dominated by the import-substituting industrialisation paradigm. The East Pakistan Agricultural Development Corporation (now BADC) and the East Pakistan Agricultural Bank (Now Bangladesh Krishi Bank, BKB) were established during the early 1960’s with the mandate of subsiding distribution of inputs (seed, fertiliser, pesticide, agricultural machinery, etc) and providing credit to farmers at concessional rates. The Comilla approach also emerged as an acclaimed model of integrated rural development. These newly established institutions played a vital role in boosting agricultural production through the adoption of the seed-water-fertiliser technology launched by the government during the mid-1960s. But, compulsory procurement of rice at below market prices and imposition of excessive taxes on the export of raw jute frustrated growers considerably.

Agricultural inputs policy  The policy of supplying agricultural inputs to farmers at highly subsidised rates continued in Bangladesh during the first few years after independence. The government however, soon adopted a policy of gradually shifting to laissez-faire economy and curtailed the monopoly of BADC. Between 1971 and 1981 the use of fertiliser (kg/ha) in the country increased from 11.0 to 30.9; land under the mechanized method of irrigation rose from 3.8% to 11%; and cultivated area covered the high yielding varieties of rice and wheat grew from 2.5% to 22.7%. The price subsidy provided by the government for all fertilisers was 68% in 1973/74 but decreased to 47% in 1979/80 and was fully withdrawn after 1980. But following an acute crisis of urea in 1994/95, the government intervened in open market operations and allowed BADC to distribute fertiliser through select dealers. The government also provided a fixed price support for fertilisers. At the same time, the government policy of lifting restrictions and taxes (fully and partially) from import of irrigation machinery proved very conducive to the expansion of irrigation.

Policy changes also included allowing private sector participation in minor irrigation, withdrawal of restrictions on imports of wheat and rice by private traders, and innovations in open tendering for government procurement of rice. Disbursement of micro-credit, rescheduling of agricultural loans of indebted farmers, remission of land taxes for holdings up to 25 bighas, crop diversification programmes and special programmes for disaster-stricken farmers were other major steps adopted to boost agricultural production. These policy measures appear to have had a positive contribution in improving the food situation in Bangladesh. As a result foodgrain production in the country increased to 24.3 million m tons in 1999/2000, matching the annual consumption requirement of its 130 million population.

The government of Bangladesh announced a National Agriculture Policy in April 1999. The overall objective of the policy was to attain self-reliance in crop production. It outlined the strategy for development of crop agriculture, the dominant sub-sector that gives three-fourths of the contribution of agriculture to the country’s GDP and about one-fourth of its aggregate GDP. At present, paddy covers about 75% of the cultivated area in Bangladesh. Such a single-crop dominated production system is not acceptable from the economic, environmental, or nutritional point of view. The new agriculture policy has, therefore, stressed crop diversification programmes for improving the nutritional status in the country. The National Agriculture Policy also aimed at improving seed distribution programme of BADC and ensuring fulfilment of at least 10% of the total demand by BADC supplies. In the light of the prevailing seed rules, the private sector will continue to retain opportunities for production, import and marketing of seeds side by side with the public sector. The already introduced seed buffer stock system will continue to ensure normal supply of seeds of major crops at the time of natural calamities.

According to the National Agricultural Policy, distribution of fertilisers in the private sector will continue, but the public sector will import fertilisers, if necessary, to ensure its supply and availability in time. Use of balanced fertilisers in order to maintain proper soil quality has also been highlighted. Moreover, efforts will be made to increase irrigated area and reduce irrigation cost by promoting appropriate technology. The policy also expressed its commitment to the mechanization of agriculture as well as to providing credit facilities for the purpose. To ensure environment-friendly and sustainable agriculture, integrated pest management (IPM) will be the main policy for controlling pests and diseases. Farmers will be motivated to use mechanical, cultural and biological methods in controlling pests. Use of any chemical pesticide harmful to the environment will be discouraged and eventually banned. To ensure fair prices for both growers and consumers, the marketing system will be improved. Agro-processing and agro-based industries will be encouraged. Efforts will be made to increase the export of agricultural commodities. The Agricultural policy also focussed on a two-dimensional agricultural research management programme: one with low cost appropriate technologies for small, marginal, and medium farmers, including women, with a view to resolving their identified problems and the other, utilizing applied research resulting form adoption of advanced research methodology. As envisaged by the policy, the government will take necessary steps to update the agricultural system in the light of the agreement on agriculture under WTO, SAFTA and other international treaties, while, at the same time protecting the national interest.

Livestock development policy  Formulated in 1992, the livestock development policy, the first of its kind, is being followed by the government for the development of the livestock sub-sector which contributes 6.5% of GDP. It has proposed various steps for the extension of poultry and animal husbandry as a means of self-employment as well as income-generation in rural areas. With a view to ensuring sufficient supply of protein diet, the livestock policy has laid emphasis on attaining self-reliance in the production of milk, meat and egg within the shortest possible time. The strategies that have been underscored in the policy to achieve the objectives are importing high yielding breeds, improving local breeds through cross breeding, encouraging small-scale diary and poultry farms, imparting training and providing all necessary inputs, including credit. In line with the policy, exporting milk and other dairy products are being discouraged while imports of various inputs and equipment relating to poultry and dairy industries are being encouraged to support local entrepreneurs. As indicated in the policy, the Department of Livestock Services, through its field level offices, is implementing various programmes like artificial insemination, vaccination, treatment, feed and fodder production and training. Other governmental agencies, NGOs, people’s representatives, and religious leaders have also been engaged in these programmes. The policy has also given priority to the expansion of education and research in related fields. The policy was revised later and the government has approved "National Livestock Development Policy-2007".

The national fisheries policy Announced in 1998, this policy stressed scientific management of water bodies that include 1.4 million ponds and a large number of other seasonal submerged areas covering nearly 4.86 million ha and the 225 km long coastal area of the Bay of Bengal. Pointing out the potentiality of fisheries as a source of animal protein as well as in rural employment and poverty alleviation, the comprehensive policy has laid emphasis on the availability of inputs like fish fries, feed and credit. Any private initiative in this regard, working in tandem with government efforts, has been encouraged in the policy. The Department of Fisheries, in cooperation with local governmental organisations and NGOs, will train people in pisciculture. Pisciculture demonstration farms will also be set up throughout the country to motivate them. Open water bodies and paddy fields will be brought under pisciculture during the monsoons. Various acts have been enacted for the development of fish resources including imposing restrictions on fishing with current nets, catching fish fries, and egg bearing fishes, and acquisition of fallow ponds. The National Fisheries Policy has also assured support for the development of an export- oriented shrimp industry and semi-intensive shrimp culture without disturbing the mangrove environment.

National forest policy  This was formulated in Bangladesh for the first time in 1979 and amended in 1994 to keep pace with the changed situation. A major objective of the National Forest Policy 1994 is to combat environmental degradation following rapid destruction of forest areas which is, at present, actually 5-6% of the total area of the country only, although official statistics claim it as 12-14% by including denuded and degraded forests. The amended forest policy has stressed an all-out effort to increase forest areas to 20% of the land area of the country by 2015. As the minimum forest areas required for the sound ecology of the country cannot be met by the rehabilitation of denuded and degraded forest lands, the forest policy has attempted to spread plantation programmes throughout the country by launching a massive social movement. In addition to regular afforestation programmes, waves approaches like social forestry and agroforesty will also be undertaken. Emphasis has also been given to planting various fast-growing species. Moreover, a green belt is being developed in coastal areas of the country to save people from natural disasters like tidal bores and floods. Plantation is also going on in the fallow lands around public, private and social institutions, roadsides and sides of railway and embankments. According to the policy, social and public organisations and NGOs as well as the participation of the people has to be ensured in these programmes. The involvement of the people will be on a profit-sharing basis and these programmes will not only grow and protect trees but also help employment and income generation. Priority has also been given on developing state-owned reserved and protected forests for maintaining biodiversity.  [Abu Abdullah and M Saifullah]

Agricultural education and research

Education Agricultural education constitutes an important element of the agricultural research and development process. Bangladesh has benefited from early and strong educational resources, beginning with the founding of the Bengal Agricultural Institute at Dhaka in 1938. At that time it was the only college for higher education in agriculture in the province of Bengal and was established on the recommendation of the Royal Agriculture Commission. It had a concurrent status as the Faculty of Agriculture of the Dhaka University. However, the Bangladesh Agricultural Institute (BAI) is at present affiliated with the bangladesh agricultural university (BAU) and gives degrees in Agriculture covering only crops.

Agricultural education, particularly higher agricultural education, has gone through on evolutionary process. BAI used to give degrees in two parts: BSc (Agriculture) degree of two years, covering only the basic sciences, and BAg degree of two years, covering the applied sciences. Later, a 3-year BAg degree was introduced in 1945. Finally, a 4-year BSc (Ag) course was introduced after BAI was affiliated with BAU. Higher education in agricultural services made a significant advance in 1961 with the establishment of Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) as an autonomous institution. In addition to institutions like BAI and BAU, several new institutions/colleges have been established during the last 20 years.

Bangladesh College of Agricultural Sciences (BCAS) was established in 1980 at Salna (Gazipur) to offer BSc (Ag) degree. It went through several reorganisations. In 1983, it was renamed as ‘Institute of Post-graduate Studies in Agriculture (IPSA)’ to offer MSc (Ag) and PhD degrees in various disciplines in agriculture. In 1998, it was made a university and renamed as Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University to offer BSc (Ag), MSc (Ag) and PhD degrees in various disciplines in agriculture. It has now been brought under the umbrella of the Ministry of Education. Dumki (Patuakhali) Agriculture College was established in 1978, and Hazi Danesh Agriculture College, Dinajpur, was established in 1988 under the Ministry of Agriculture to offer the BSc Ag degree covering only crops. The colleges at Patuakhali and Dinajpur have now been reorganised as the University of Science and Technology with a faculty of agriculture in each location and placed under the Ministry of Education. The old BAI at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar remains under the Ministry of Agriculture.

There are also two private Agricultural Colleges, one at Rajshahi and the other at Bogra. The college of Forestry at Chittagong, under the Ministry of Forest and Environment, offers the BSc degree in Forestry. The Institute of Forestry at the University of Chittagong offers graduate and post-graduate degrees. In addition there were two veterinary colleges, one at Sylhet and the other at Chittagong, offering degrees in Veterinary Sciences. Currently, these two colleges have been upgraded to universities. Diploma level education is given by the Agriculture Extension Training Institute (AETI) and other training institutions of the sub-sectors of agriculture such as, forestry, fisheries, animal husbandry etc.

Intake of students  About 1200 students are admitted every year at the undergraduate level covering all the sub-sectors of agriculture and 200-250 students at the post-graduate level. The Bangladesh Agricultural University, The Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University, and the Institute of Forestry, Chittagong University offer courses leading to PhD degrees. Several hundred students are admitted into various diploma courses every year.

Faculties  The BAU is the only multi-faculty Agricultural University of Bangladesh. It has six faculties, viz, Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, Agricultural Engineering and Technology, and Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. The Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University has, at present, only the Agriculture Faculty, but new faculties will be introduced here in the near future. The Agriculture/ Forestry/Veterinary Colleges have only one faculty but several departments. In addition to faculties, the BAU has a research unit, Bangladesh Agricultural University Research System (BAURES) which funds, coordinates and monitors research programmes/projects of the university, and the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) which trains new graduates and others involved in agricultural development activities.

Research  The evaluation of the agricultural research system in Bangladesh has a long tradition. At the recommendation of the Famine Commission of 1880, the government created the Department of Agriculture in 1906. This was followed by the establishment of the Agricultural Research Laboratory in 1908 at Tejgaon, Dhaka. About this time, a-403 acre experimental station was set up adjoining the Agricultural Research laboratory. This experimental station became known as the Dhaka-Monipur Farm (now Sher-e-Bangla Nagar). Subsequently, District Agricultural Farms were established in each of the districts of Bengal to carry out agricultural R&D activities at the local level.

Until 1962, research efforts on crops, soils, fertilisers, and plant protection were highly compartmentalized. With the initiation of the Second 5-year Plan (1960-65) of East Pakistan, this was integrated for the first time within a single institute, the East Pakistan Agricultural Research Institute (EPARI). After the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, the bangladesh agricultural research institute (BARI) was established as an autonomous institute at Joydebpur, some 32 km north of Dhaka, and the newly created institute started functioning in 1973. By this time, separate institutes/research stations for rice, jute, sugarcane, tea, forestry, soils, fisheries and livestock were already in existence in the country or in the process of being established. Since then, most of these institutes/stations have also been reorganised and strengthened.

Currently, there are ten research institutes dealing with crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry. In addition, a number of educational institutions, particularly the Institute of Postgraduate Studies in Agriculture (upgraded as bangabandhu sheikh mujibur rahman agricultural university in 1998) and several colleges of agriculture were established.

Although all the agricultural research institutes were developed independently, but realizing the lack of coordination among these institutes, the bangladesh agricultural research council (BARC) was established in 1973. The Council was created to function as the umbrella organisation of the agricultural research system to facilitate coordination, monitoring, and evaluation of agricultural research throughout the country. The council’s role now extends to cover all ten-research institutes dealing with crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry. Together they constitute the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) of Bangladesh. There are some 1500 scientists working within the NARS.

Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation  The BARC initiated some key programmes. These included the preparation of the National Agricultural Research Plan (NARP), the development of contract research projects on high priority farm problems, surveys on human resources in the research system, establishment of linkages among national research institutes as well as international organisations, and the development of a central library and documentation centre.

A division called ‘Technical Support Services Division’ was created in BARC in 1981/82 to take up the responsibility to plan, monitor, evaluate, and coordinate research programmes funded by donors through BARC. By 1982/83, the monitoring and evaluation of contract research programmes began. The outcome of the evaluation enhanced the credibility and reputation of BARC. This was, in fact, the first attempt to monitor and evaluate of agricultural research in Bangladesh.

In 1983/84, the Technical Support Service Division was redesignated as the ‘Planning and Evaluation Division’. The activities of the division were extended to cover the evaluation of performances of different research institutes and their disciplinary divisions/departments.

BARC prepared the first National Agricultural Research Plan for 1979-83. During 1983/84, another committee was formed to draw up the second NARP for 1984-88.

Research planning  The BARC has the responsibility for agricultural research planning at the national level. Comprehensive planning of agricultural research, based on national needs and priorities, planning for improvement of research capabilities of the National Agricultural Research System (NARS), and planning for developing appropriate research infrastructures and technology transfer mechanisms are all within the purview of  BARC’s responsibilities.

One of the important functions of BARC has been the preparation of the National Agricultural Research Plan (NARP). Although such a plan generally identifies areas of research for the coming 5 years, there is scope for periodic updating of priorities. NARP contains guidelines for agricultural research, and defines goals, priorities, and scope of research, assuring support to the national development plan.

Currently, BARC makes periodic studies of the manpower position in agricultural research and, based on them, initiates appropriate manpower development plans (both long and short term training programmes) for agricultural research workers. Such programmes allow for training abroad as well as within the country.

At the institute level, research projects are prepared, based on priorities set by BARC. A number of criteria are considered for agricultural research projects which expect BARC funding. The BARC evaluates research activities of institutes at different levels (eg, at the institute level, division level, programme/project level).  [Kazi M Badruddoza]

See also  bangladesh agricultural research council; bangladesh agricultural research institute; bangladesh agricultural university; bangladesh rice research institute.

Development of crop variety

Development of crop variety Bangladesh has a large number of Plant Genetic Resources (PGR), of which about 5000 are angiosperms. People have domesticated a number of plant genetic resources of different species during the centuries of their inhabitancy. The agroecological conditions and the sociocultural background of the groups led to selection of different types of PGR in different areas. Of these, 160 species are in the cultivation under different cropping systems. The process of variety development or selection using some scientific approach started initially with the collection and cultivation of land races originated from wild plant resources in this part of the world. As is the case in all other areas, the previously selected PGR were put into the process for release and registration of the varieties of species by the National Seed Board, which is a statutory organisation of the government of Bangladesh. This is how the varieties are registered and released under the law. The present day rice species Oryza sativa has been evolved in this region and has the highest diversity of types and varieties. In 1905, in line with the Bengal Famine Commission’s report of early 1860s, Bengal Agricultural Farm and Laboratory was established in this part of Indian subcontinent. At that time emphasis was given to select and register the varieties of rice, jute and other important crops under cultivation.

Table 2 Crop varieties registered and released for cultivation.

Crop species No. of variety Development process
Rice (Oryza sativa) (Modern varieties) BRRI (37), BINA (6), BAU (2) 45 Out of 45, BRRI developed 30 through hybridization and seven through introduction and selection. BINA developed all six varieties through selection after mutation. BAU developed two varieties from introductions and hybridization. All are after 1968.  
Rice (Oryza sativa) Traditional varieties 24 All these varieties have been selected from amongst land races. Introduction from Nigeria (Nigersail), deepwater rice genetic resources and local boro land races. Almost all these are before 1968.
Wheat (Triticum aestivum"') 26 These varieties have been selected from introduced genetic materials of CIMMYT. Other sources include some selection from hybridization in recent years, after 1970s.
Barley (Hordeum vulgare) 2 Selection from available genetic resources of traditional nature, registered after 1980.
Maize (Zea mays) 4 These are composite varieties, one of white grain type, and others have normal maize grain colour. Selected as varieties after mid-1970s. During early 1990s, imported hybrid varieties of maize have been imported.  
Proso millet (Panicum miliaceum)   1 Selections from local genetic resources which were possibly introduced long before and registered after 1980.
Foxtail millet (Setaria italica)   1 Collection and subsequent selection from the locally available genetic resources.
Jute (Corchorus capsularis) 7 Atompat is a mutant selected by BINA from D-154, traditional variety. Other two varieties of very recent releases (early 1990s) are the products of hybridization (BJRI-5, BJRI-6). D-154 is a selection from land race during early 1950s.  
Jute (Corchorus olitorius) 3 One is the traditional variety of the region, selected from land races after introduction (during mid 1940s) from its origin. The two others have been selected after introduction from Brazil and Uganda.
Mesta (Hibiscus sabdariffa) 1 Selection from locally available genetic resources.  
Kenaf (Hibiscus canabinus) 2 One was introduced from USA; the other one was introduced from Iran. Both have been put under cultivation by BJRI.  
Cotton (Gossypium spp.) 6 These varieties have been selected in Bangladesh after introduction from India (2), Pakistan (1) and USA (3). The Chittagong cotton varieties are perennial and are not registered as varieties. At present these are only found in homestead area. 
Potato (Solanum tuberosum) (Modern varieties) 15 Introduced from Holland (11), UK (1), India (1) and CIP, Peru (2) during different periods starting from early 1950s. Recently, the hybrids are being introduced and tested as TPS (True Potato Seeds).
Potato (Indigenous variety) 7 Introduced long time back from Indian sides of the country. They are being replaced in many areas by HYVs.
Sweet Potato (Ipomea batatas) 7 Three of these varieties are from Bangladesh and one each from the Philippines and Taiwan.
Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum)   12 Eleven varieties are used for industrial crushing to produce sugars. One is chewing type. The selections of the varieties were from Bangladeshi genetic resources as introduced in this region long back from the tropical Asia.  
Chick pea (Cicer arietinum) 5 Four of these varieties have been developed by selection after introduction, while one was selected as mutant. The materials are of low genetic variability.  
Lentil (Lens culinaris) 2 One is a selection from available resources of Bangladesh in early 1930s. The other is a selection from materials imported from Syria during the late 1970s.
Mung bean (Vigna mungo) 4 Two of the varieties were selected from introduced materials of India. The other two are mutants selected after mutagenic treatment at BINA.
Black gram (Vigna radiata) 2 These are cultivable varieties selected from introduced materials because this species is not endemic to this region. One of the selections was done in early 1940s as fodder crop.
Kheshari (Lathyrus sativus) 1 Selection from land races. The variety contains chemicals that cause lathyrism when taken in high quantities.
Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) 1 Selection from land races under cultivation for many years in the southern part of the country. Appeared to have been originally introduced by Dutch inhabitants of the southern part of the country and also carried by Burmese or Rohyngas.
Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) 1 Two of these varieties were developed from land races; one is of Indian origin. The other variety was developed as a mutant selected after treatment with chemical mutagens at BAU.

Brown Mustard (Brassica campestris

Yellow sarson (Brassica campestris) 24 One is the original select of this region and is registered as Tori-7. This variety is still predominant. The other one is TS-72, a selection from the Tori source in 1972. One of these was introduced from Czechoslovakia in 1972 and was registered in 1982 as Sampad. The SS-75 was introduced from Pakistan and was registered in 1981. The other two have been developed after mutagenic treatment.
Rapeseed (Brassica napus)   2 Introduced during mid 1970s; products of introgressive hybridization between B. campestris and B. napus with selection for early maturity in Bangladesh.
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) 1 Open pollinated composite variety. Seeds of better adopted hybird varieties are imported from outside every year. The coverage is small.
Sesame (Sesamum indicum) 2 One variety selected from naturally available genetic materials of Bangladesh. The other one was selected after introduction from Syria.
Soybean (Glycine max) 4 Two of the varieties are from USA. One is from India through Sri Lanka.
Groundnut (Arachis hypogea) 5 One each from Australia, the Philippines and India and two although exotic, were introduced in Bangladesh during 1940s.
Turmeric (Curcuma domestica) 2 These are selections from local land races under cultivation for many years.
Black pepper (Piper nigrum) 1 Mainly introduced from Malaysia and selected from amongst clones for release as variety.  
Guava (Psidium guajava) 2 One of these varieties was introduced from Thailand. The other one from local resources.
Papaya (Carica papaya) 1 The variety was released as a selection from local genetic resources. Some hybrids are also available.
Banana (Musa spp.) Endemic and exotic 7 One of the introduced variety of banana has been released as Basrai. The amrito sagar and sabri are the two commercially important varieties of the country. There are some varieties of vegetable banana.
Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) 16 Seeds of these varieties are imported and the varieties are registered with the NSB for import by seed importers every year.
Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis) 11 Out of these 11 varieties only one is from Bangladesh which is being cultivated in Tangail through farmers selection process. Seeds of other varieties are imported from different countries and are mostly hybrids of different nature.
Radish (Raphanus sativus) 5 All are imported varieties for cultivation. One variety Tasakisan was introduced from Japan. The other important one is the Red Bombay.
Onion (Allium cepa) 7 Thaherpuri and Faridpur Bhati are two selected varieties of Bangladesh while all others are from Indian sources. Seeds are imported.
Tomato (Lycopersicon lycopersicum) 10 All ten are imported. Most varieties have been cultivated for long time. BARI and BINA released three varieties.  
Pea (Pisum sativum) 4 All varieties are imported. One field pea (motor) of Bangladeshi origin is cultivated in most low-lying areas, either with Indian mustard or with Khesari.
Sweet corn (Zea mays) 2 Both varieties are imported hybirds.
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) 2 Both are materials introduced from outside of Bangladesh.
Brinjal (Solanum melongena) 9 BARI has developed three varieties through breeding process. Other six are land races of the past selected by local people.  
Bottle gourd (Lagenaria vulgaris) 2 Both are imported and introduced materials. There are three local types/varieties available.

[Lutfur Rahman]

Crop pests and diseases

Pest Any organism that attacks growing crops and causes economic injury. Annual crop loss in Bangladesh due to insect pests alone is about 16% for rice, 15% for jute, 11% for wheat, 20% for sugarcane, 25% for vegetables, and 25% for pulse crops. Besides several species of bird and rodent pests, a total of over 700 insect and mite pest species of different crops and stored products have so far been recorded from this country, of which more than 200 species are considered as major.

Table 3 Major insect pest.

Crop Principal insect orders/families No. of species
Cereals (rice, wheat, maize, etc) Lepidoptera: Pyralidae, Noctuidae Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae Homoptera: Cicadellidae 34
Pulses (chickpea, blackgram, mungbean, etc) Lepidoptera: Noctuidae, Pyralidae, Pterophoridae, Arctiidae, Lycaenidae Diptera: Agromyzidae Homoptera: Aphididae 13
Oilseeds (rapeseed, mustard, sesame, soybean, groundnut, sunflower, etc) Homoptera: Aphididae, Cicadellidae Lepidoptera: Sphingidae, Arctiidae, Gelechiidae, Noctuidae, Lymantridae Hymenoptera: Tenthredinidae Diptera: Agromyzidae 19
Sugarcane Lepidoptera: Pyralidae, Noctuidae Isoptera: Termitidae Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae Homoptera: Lophopidae, Aleyrodidae, Aphididae 16
Jute Lepidoptera: Arctiidae, Noctuidae Coleoptera: Apionidae Orthoptera: Gryllidae Acarina (mite): Tetranichidae, Tarsonemidae 6
Cotton Homoptera: Cicadellidae, aphididae, Aleyrodidae Hemiptera: Pyrrhocoridae Lepidoptera: Noctuidae, Pyralidae 8
Tuber crops (potato, sweet potato, aroids) Lepidoptera: Noctuidae, Pyralidae, Arctiidae Sphingidae Coleoptera: Coccinellidae, Curculionidae, Chrysomelidae Homoptera: Cicadellidae, Aphididae 17
Vegetables (cucurbits, beans, okra, brinjal, tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, etc) Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae, Coccinellidae Diptera: Tephritidae Lepidoptera: Noctuidae, Pyralidae, Yponomeutidae, Lycaenidae, Pieridae Homoptera: Aphididae, Cicadellidae Hemiptera: Pyrrhocoridae 37

Pest management  Rice and jute being most important field crops, control of pests of these crops till 1956 mainly comprised of a few traditional methods such as rotation of crops, manual collection of various stages of pests, destruction of affected plant parts, and some sanitation and cultural practices. In 1956 synthetic insecticides were first introduced in Bangladesh by the Department of Plant Protection, Ministry of Agriculture, and were distributed to farmers free of cost. The use of insecticides soon became very popular among the farmers for pest control of rice and other crops. From 1974, the government started selling pesticides at subsidized prices, but from 1979 the subsidy was withdrawn. The farmers, however, are continuing the use of chemicals as a primary measure for pest management. A total of 94 pesticides (including one botanical), with 299 trade names, of different groups and formulations, have been registered for use in agriculture. In 1999, the total consumption of formulated pesticides was about 14,340 m tons, containing 2,462 m tons of active ingredient. It is estimated that about 90% of insecticides are applied for rice pest control throughout the country.

Chemical pesticides alone do not always give satisfactory management results. Recently, the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) initiated Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Programme in 72 upazilas of 63 districts jointly with FAO. The DAE has also taken up another five-year project (1997-2002) called Strengthening Plant Protection Services (SPPS) in 137 upazilas with DANIDA to train 836 extension staff of DAE in IPM for vegetables and rice. About 25,000 vegetable farmers and 80,000 rice farmers are expected to receive in-depth IPM training. In addition to IPM, this project has three other components: pest surveillance and forecasting, pesticide administration and quality control, and developing pest management practices that are compatible with IPM.

Disease A wide variety of plant diseases are found to occur on crops, causing huge economic losses. Till now, about 536 diseases have been recorded from 43 crop plants. Although accurate statistics regarding the economic loss is not available, it is estimated that it will be about Taka 6 billion annually. Not only the production, but the quality of the produce may also be severely affected. Rice and cereals, pulses, oilseeds, vegetables, fruits, fibers, sugar and spices are known to suffer from 100, 109, 80, 94, 55, 33, 24 and 31 detectable diseases, respectively. Of these 37, 26, 24, 32, 28, 18, 9 and 8 diseases, respectively, are of major importance. Plant diseases are usually grouped according to their causal agents. These include pathogenic fungus, bacteria, virus and micoplasma, and plant parasitic nematodes. The diseases may be soil-borne or seed-borne when they are perpetuated through contaminated soil or seeds. Some diseases are air-borne and are transmitted by wind, while insect pests transmit many others, particularly viral diseases.

Table 4 Crop diseases.

Crop group Total no. of diseases No. of major diseases No. of minor diseases
Cereals 110 37 73
Pulses 109 26 83
Oilseeds 80 24 56
Vegetables 94 32 62
Fruits 55 28 27
Fibers 33 18 15
Sugarcane 24 9 15
Spices 31 8 23
Total 536 182 354

Source HU Ahmed 1994, PAB-GIFAP Asia Working Group Meeting Proceedings.

Diseases of cereal crops  Of the total 110 diseases so far reported from cereal crops in Bangladesh, fungus alone causes about 75 diseases. The important diseases of rice and other cereals are bacterial leaf blight, sheath blight, tungro, ufra, sheath rot, leaf scald, blast, brown spot, bacterial leaf streak, stem rot, bakanae, root-knot of rice; leaf rust, loose smut, seedling blight, leaf blight and root rot of wheat; leaf blight of maize; leaf stripe, root rot of barley; root rot, leaf blast and downy mildew of millet; grain smut, leaf spot, anthracnose, rust and downy mildew of sorghum, and loose smut and leaf blotch of oat.

Diseases of pulse crops  Pulses are attacked by about 109 different diseases of which 26 are of major importance. These have been recorded on chickpea (11), lentil (16), grasspea (14), mungbean (16), blackgram (21), pigeonpea (11), fieldpea (11), and cowpea (9). Notable among pulse diseases are root rot of chickpea, lentil, grasspea, cowpea, mungbean and blackgram; blights of chickpea, lentil, blackgram and grasspea; cercospora leaf spot and yellow mosaic of blackgram, mungbean, cowpea and fieldpea; wilts of chickpea, lentil and pigeonpea; stemphyllium blight of lentil; powdery mildew of blackgram, mungbean and fieldpea; downy mildew of grasspea; and rusts of lentil.

Table 5 Diseases of cereal crops caused by different pathogens.

Crop Fungus Bacteria Virus and Mycoplasma Nematode Total
Rice 20 3 2 6 31
Wheat 12 0 2 6 20
Maize 19 1 3 5 28
Millet 7 0 0 3 10
Barley 11 0 2 0 13
Sorghum 4 0 1 0 5
Oat 2 0 1 0 3
Total 75 4 11 20 110

Source HU Ahmed 1994, PAB-GIFAP Asia Working Group Meeting Proceedings.

Diseases of oilseed crops  Nearly 80 diseases including 24 of major importance have been recorded on nine oilseed crops, including mustard, groundnut, sesame, soybean, sunflower, linseed and niger in Bangladesh. The most serious diseases are Alternaria blight of mustard; tikka and rust of groundnut; stem rot of sesame, groundnut and linseed; anthracnose, seed rot/decay, and yellow mosaic of soybean.

Diseases of vegetables  Till now about 94 diseases have been recorded from nine common vegetables in Bangladesh, of which about 32 are considered as major. Late blight, early blight, stem rot, black scarf, dry rot, wilt, soft rot/black leg, common scab, potato leaf rot and potato mosaic; late blight, early blight, damping off, bacterial wilt, and mosaic of tomato; foot rot, bacterial wilt, fruit rot and little leaf of brinjal; leaf spot of radish, cabbage, cauliflower; anthracnose of bean; yellow mosaic of okra, and powdery mildew of gourd are important diseases.

Fruit diseases  Among the recorded 55 diseases of fruit crops, the most damaging ones are fusarium wilt, bacterial wilt, and sigatoka of banana; mosaic (virus) and stem rot of papaya; anthracnose of mango; dieback of citrus; and wilt of guava. Many diseases are internally or externally seed borne. If they are allowed to survive, the diseases will be manifested in the following season.  [SM Humayun Kabir]

Agricultural resources

Agricultural resources Bangladesh is predominantly an agricultural country and the major agricultural resources are the land and soil, water, agroclimate, different varieties and breeds of crops, livestock and fishes, and forests.

Land and soil resources These have broadly been divided into three main physiographic areas: floodplain, terrace and hill. Floodplain areas occupy about 80 percent of Bangladesh. These areas are generally alluvial plains criss-crossed by the rivers Meghna, Jamuna and Padma, and their innumerable tributaries and distributaries. Rivers bring an enormous quantity of clay, silt and sand, and deposit them in the agricultural land. Clays and silts so deposited contain potash-bearing minerals that enrich the soils with potassium nutrient. Four main types of floodplain landscapes have been identified. These are: (a) the piedmont at the foot of the eastern hills; (b) the Ganges tidal floodplain; (c) the meander floodplains of the Ganges, Tista, Brahmaputra, Jamuna and Surma-Kusiara; and (d) the old and young Meghna estuaries. Terrace areas consist of the Madhupur as well as the Barind tracts. These are uplifted and occupy about 8 percent of Bangladesh. The Madhupur tract comprises parts of Gazipur, Mymensingh and Tangail districts; while the Barind tract comprises parts of Rajshahi, Naogaon, Bogra, Joypurhat, Gaibandha and Dinajpur. The hill areas comprise of Chittagong Hill districts and parts of Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Comilla, Maulvi Bazar, Sylhet and northern Mymensingh districts. They occupy about 12 percent of the country. These areas have high and low hill ranges.

Of the total land surface of about 13.5 million ha (m ha), 9.15 m ha are used for agriculture, while an estimated 2.45 m ha consist of forest or potential forests. The use of agricultural land has intensified during the last three decades. There is continuous transformation from single crops (30% of net cropped area) to double (55%), and triple crop (15%). The cropping intensity of the country is now about 182%.

Based on physicochemical properties, colour, depth, and presence of lime, the soils of Bangladesh have broadly been classified into 20 general soil types.

Water resources  Water is one of the important natural resources of Bangladesh. The rainfall during the monsoon (June-October) varies between 125 cm in the northwest region and 400 cm in the northeast. This immense quantity of surface water flows through the major rivers and overflows their banks. Moreover, the huge quantity of water coming from neighbouring country during the same time often aggravates the situation, giving rise to floods in the country.

Irrigation coverage has increased considerably from about 2.65 million ha in 1990/91 to about 4.0 million ha in 1996/97. Ground water irrigation covered 64.5% of the total irrigated area while surface water accounted for only about 31.5% in 1996/97. Irrigation expansion is projected to reach 5.41 million ha in 2005-2006 which is about 72% of the total potential irrigable area of 7.56 million ha.

There is abundance of surface water in the south but the quality of water is a problem. Salinity exists in the shallow aquifers near the coast and locally inland in the southeast. The hydrological situation and irrigation coverage has a significant bearing on the overall performances of the crop diversification programme during the dry season.

Agroclimate  Four agroclimatic zones have been recognised throughout the country by analysing the daily rainfall as well as other climatic parameters such as, potential evapotranspiration, wind speed, and sunshine. The four agroclimatic zones include average length of pre-kharif period when rainfed moisture supply is intermittent and uncertain; average length of rainfed kharif and rabi growing period; average number of days in a year with minimum temperature (below 15BAC); and average number of days in a year with maximum summer temperatures (higher than 40BAC).

Performances of different agricultural sectors  Agriculture is the lifeline of the Bangladesh economy, despite the marked decline in its contribution to GDP, from about 50.4% in 1984/85 to about 21% in 2006/2007 at current market prices. The crop sub-sector alone provides about 56% of the value added by agricultural sources while an additional 14% comes from livestock, 21% from fisheries, and 8% from forestry. The agriculture sector also employs 52% of the civilian labour force.

Crops sub-sector  During the past three decades cereal production has increased about three times from 10.26 million m tons in 1972/73 to 28.39 million m tons in 2006-07. The principal sources of growth came from boro and Aman rice as well as wheat. Among non-cereal food crops, potatoes have had an impressive growth record from 1.09 million m tons in 1981/82 to 8.2 million m tons in 2007/08. Yields of other crops such as pulse and oilseeds have also improved despite a fall in total production because of a reallocation of land to irrigated boro rice. To attain self-sufficiency within the shortest possible time, intensification of crop production by multiple cropping, increased cropping intensity, and use of high yielding varieties is a must. This involves adoption of complete management practice of seed-fertilizer-water technology through intensive use of land and soil resources with maximum efficiency.

Livestock sub-sector  Livestock represents an important component of Bangladesh’s traditional farming system. The share of livestock sub-sector to GDP at constant prices was 2.92% and growth rate was 6.15% in 2005-06. This sub-sector has immense contribution towards meeting the daily protein requirements, crop cultivation and export of leather and leather goods. According to an estimate made by the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, the number cattle was 22.8 million, buffalo 1.16 million, goat 19.96 million, sheep 2.57 million, chicken 192.82 million and duck 38.17 million in 2005-06. The density of cattle population is high but there productivity is low in Bangladesh. Thus, the gap between production and demand for livestock products is enormous. Most livestock breeds are of poor genetic stock and are, therefore, poor yielders. However, high performing exotic breeds have been successfully introduced under intensive and semi-intensive systems. Further research and development activities are in progress in this regard. Moreover, appropriate measures have been taken to solve problems of feed, diseases and management. bangladesh livestock research institute has so far developed 59 new technologies for development of the livestock sub-sector and some of them have been transferred to the farmers successfully. Among those technologies, cattle fattening, preservation of green fodder, development of PPR and goat pox vaccine, broiler and layer rearing models for small farmers, quail and pigeon rearing etc. are important.

Fisheries sub-sector  This sub-sector accounts for the major share in the country’s animal production system, providing about 58% of the animal protein intake. The share of the fisheries sub-sector to GDP at constant prices was 4.73% in 2005-06. About 12.5 million people of the country are directly or indirectly dependent on this sub-sector for their livelihood. This sub-sector contributes about 22% to agricultural GDP at constant prices. There are 1.3 million ponds and lakes covering an area of 0.3 million hectares and 24,000 km rivers covering 1.03 million hectares. Moreover, there are 1.1 million beels covering 0.11 million hectares, 5,488 hectares lakes, 68,800 hectares Kaptai Lake, 0.2 million hectares Sundarban water areas and 2.83 million hectares open water. The gross production of fish in 2006-07 was 2.44 million m tons, of which 1.007 million m tons came from inland open water, 0.816 million m tons from closed water and 0.487 million m tons from marine water. There are 260 species of fish and 24 species of shrimp in sweet water, and 475 species of fish and 36 species of shrimp in marine water of Bangladesh. In recent years, the production of fish has increased in the country but it is not sufficient in relation to total demand. Meanwhile, some technologies developed by the bangladesh fisheries research institute (BFRI) after 1990 have been successfully transferred to the rural farmers country-wide by various government and non-government organisations through training, demonstrations and distribution of fish culture leaflets/manual. The technologies include: raising of fry and fingerlings of carps; polyculture of carps; culture of nilotica; integrated rice-fish farming; and integrated poultry/duck-fish farming.

Forestry sub-sector  The total forest area in Bangladesh is about 12.9%. About 89% of total forest areas of the country is owned by the government and the remainder 11% is privately controlled homestead forest land scattered all over the country. Currently, only about 7.7% of the total land area is covered by tress. This is quite insufficient for ecological balance and sustainable environmental security. Forests supply a variety of products, such as timber, firewood, bamboo, golpata, honey and fish. Total production of these products has been declining over the last three decades. However, efforts have been made by government and private sectors for conservation and expansion of forests. Among different programmes, coastal aforestation, large scale plantation in the denuded and degraded forest areas and social forestry are important. bangladesh forest research institute has been working on development of new technologies for this sub-sector.  [Md. Shahidul Islam and Jahangir Alam]

Environmental issues related to agriculture

Environmental issues related to agriculture Bangladesh is affected by almost all the environmental events that occur in a tropical region. A single environmental event such as hail, tornado, massive rainfall or tropical cyclone can destroy the labour of the whole year. It is apprehended that due to global warming the rise in sea level in future may inundate vast areas of southern Bangladesh by sea water. Moreover, in recent years, changes in the ecosystems are of concern about sustainable agricultural production. The major environmental issues which need to be addressed are floods, droughts, cyclones (and tidal surges), river bank erosion, soil erosion, land degradation, declining soil fertility/organic matter depletion, tornadoes, earthquakes, nor’westers and hailstorms, salinity, siltation, pests and diseases of crops, poultry and livestock, and extreme temperatures for crop production. Major ‘man-made’ environmental problems are landslides, ground water table depletion, declining of forest, fish and livestock resources, and air and water pollution (including contamination of ground water with arsenic). Some of these problems are recurrent, such as floods, droughts, and cyclones, while others are accumulative, such as deforestation, decrease in water availability, and increasing salinity.

The monsoon or rainy season between June and October brings floods, normally inundating some 2.6 million ha of land surface. Estimates over the last 45 years show that there were devastating floods in 1954, 1955, 1956, 1962, 1964, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1974, 1978, 1984, 1987, 1988, and 1998 engulfing areas ranging from 3.5 to 12.2 million ha. Recent estimates show that 50 percent of the total land of Bangladesh (about 14.4 million ha) is vulnerable to floods of one kind or the other. In Bangladesh, about 1.32 million ha of cropland are highly flood prone and 5.05 million ha are moderately flood prone. The unprecedented flood of 1988 devastated close to 60% of the land area of the country.

The flood depth to which the land is normally inundated ranges from 30 to 250 cm, but in some areas, particularly in depressions and haors, it may reach to 500 cm. Extensive river floods cause great disruption and damage to infrastructure, and loss of standing crops. Flash floods also often cause considerable, localized damage to crops, fish ponds, property, and infrastructure, particularly in the north, northeast and eastern part of the country. In Bangladesh spread, depth, and duration of floods vary from year to year.

Historically, drought-induced famines were also devastating, but the effects of drought have been reduced by increased access to irrigation and by the provision of food aid. Nevertheless, drought remains a threat to the livelihoods of subsistence farmers and agricultural labourers, particularly in the northwest area of the country. In Bangladesh drought is an important limiting factor for crop production where crops are grown mostly under rainfed condition. Droughts affect about 2.32 million ha in Kharif and 1.2 million ha in Rabi seasons in almost every year. The Kharif drought severely affects the transplanted Aman, reducing its production by about 1.5 million m tons annually. The Rabi season drought affects mainly wheat, potato, mustard and aus paddy crops. Obviously, rainfall is the primary single factor influencing the incidence of droughts in the macro-climatic sense. From long term rainfall data, it appears that droughts affect the country, on an average, almost once in every five years. It affects the Aus and deep water rice (March to May) and transplant Aman (October to November) crops, depending on the period of drought. Severity, intensity, yield reduction, and supplementary irrigation needs vary according to rice cultivars. Yield losses often exceed 45% in very severe drought areas. The maximum yield reductions are found in the vulnerable zones of northwest and southwest parts of the country which are considered as very severe drought-prone areas. Since the agro-climatic conditions during Rabi season are usually unfavorable, the crop yield reduction varies from less than 10% to more than 70% depending on the crop, the time of planting and severity of the drought. The northern and eastern parts of the country are included in the slightly drought-prone class.

Major cyclones in the last fifty years indicate that they were responsible for large number of disaster-related deaths as well as considerable losses to agriculture and damage to infrastructure in coastal areas. Occurrence of cyclones and tidal surges is a regular phenomenon in Bangladesh. The worst ever cyclone and tidal surge of 29 April 1991 destroyed standing crops of about 1.8 million ha and caused colossal losses to human lives, livestock, and aquatic resources. Likewise, crop losses worth about Taka 30 million are caused annually due to damages by pre-monsoon hailstorms and excessive rains. During 1795-1900, the country experienced major cyclonic storms and tidal surges almost once in every ten years. But after this period during (1901-1985) such natural hazards occurred almost once in every two years. During 1960’s and 1970’s, the country received higher number of these hazards compared to other decades. The 85 year accumulated data on monthly occurrence of major cyclonic storms and tidal surges show that about 33% of these pass over Bangladesh during May, 31% in October, 14% in November, and 8% in December. This indicates that about 78% of the cyclonic events inflict Bangladesh during May, October, and November. Coastal areas, particularly Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, and the offshore islands are the most affected areas. The frequency distribution of cyclones forming over the Bay of Bengal from 1948 to 1970 shows that out of 19 severe storms, the highest 6 occurred in May, followed by 5 in October, 4 in December, and 3 in November.

River bank erosion along many rivers, both major and minor, carries away agricultural land and destroys houses and other structures. It is estimated that about a million people are displaced every year as a direct result of erosion.

In Bangladesh, out of the 2.85 million ha of coastal and offshore areas, about a million ha are affected by various degrees of soil salinity. Agricultural land use in these areas is very poor, much lower than the country’s average cropping intensity (170%, ranging from 62% in Chittagong coastal region to 114% in Patuakhali coastal region). Soil erosion and soil fertility problems are the two principal causes of low productivity in Bangladesh. Organic matter content of most soils are below the critical level. Moreover, more than 4 million ha of cropland are Sulfur-deficient, and another 2 million ha are deficient in zinc. Crop loss due to damage by different pests and diseases is also high; 10-15% production losses are attributed to pest damage alone. A recent report shows that more than hundred types of pesticides are used indiscriminately over the country which may lead to water and soil pollution.

Tornadoes cause localized devastation of cropland in widely scattered areas. A seismic zone extends across the country and there is a risk of earthquakes that could cause serious damage to infrastructure, including embankments and other flood control structures. Landslides often occur in hilly areas due to heavy rainfalls, causing damage to agriculture and other resources.

Very high population density, unplanned urbanization, industrialization, and other form of human activities add substantially to environmental degradation. These lead to the growth of unplanned squatter settlements, reduction of agricultural land, as well as increasing landlessness, unemployment, and poverty.

A study based on historical climatic data over the country showed a decline of sunshine hours since 1970, annually or seasonally, but rainfall and temperature did not show any perceptible variations except minor fluctuations. Declining sunshine hours may be related to low productivity over the last decade.

The increasing threats of environmental vulnerability and high rate of population growth are the principal contributors to the long-run stagnation of the economy. These facts clearly indicate that agricultural resources in Bangladesh are already under severe environmental stress and where possible, are to be urgently augmented to raise the productive capability of the scarce and essential agricultural resource base.  [Md. Serajul Islam]

See also  cyclone; drought; flood; nor’wester; tornado.

Crop hazard management

Crop hazard management The application of measures to avoid or to minimize the impact of disasters on various agricultural development activities. Essentially it means regulating cropping and other land use in order to reduce the vulnerability of crops, livestock, fisheries, forestry, people and properties. It also implies structural or non-structural interventions or combination of both, as applicable and dissemination of scientific information. Motivation and ensuring peoples’ participation are essential as a part of the cropping strategy of managing disasters in agriculture.

Disasters are a common phenomenon in Bangladesh agriculture and is experienced in one form or another almost every year. The peasant communities are accustomed to disasters that normally occur, and they apply coping mechanisms learnt from their ancestors. In case of a high devastating situation, however, loss to agriculture is enormous as improved technical information is not yet available. Further, it is of great concern that the magnitude and the frequency of disasters are increasing and will be more severe under the predicted global warming and climate change situations. Research on disaster management for sustainable agricultural development is thus an imperative. Introduction of appropriate technology and its wider use will be essential in the future years. Comprehensive policy decisions and strong research and extension interventions will be necessary to combat disasters in the future. Through dissemination of modern research information and the ability of farmers to utilise new technologies, the impact of disasters could be significantly minimized. Since there is scant evidence of structural (polders, embankments, etc) measures having helped to reduce flooding (drainage congestion rather more) and boost production, appropriate blending of structural and non-structural measures to overcome flooding, salinity and drought situation is required.  [M Anwar Iqbal]

Agricultural machinery

Machinery for land preparation  It includes all sorts of hand tools, equipment and accessories that are used in agricultural farms for land preparation, at the initial stages of crop production. Use of machinery depends on the type of soil and soil conditions, sources of power, socio-economic conditions of farmers etc. A single crop often needs different kinds of machinery at different stages of its growth. Land preparation is the first and most important stage in the crop production process. In Bangladesh several kinds of traditional, improved, and imported machineries are used for this purpose. Following are the different kinds of land preparation machinery generally used for cultivating major crops by Bangladeshi farmers:

Spade (kodal)  This is the most ancient agricultural implement abundantly available in Bangladesh. It has two parts a steel blade for cutting soil, and a wooden handle for operation. There are different sizes and shapes of spades available in different regions of Bangladesh. Spades are generally made by village blacksmiths and in small workshops in towns. Farmers use spade for seedbed preparation, weeding, cutting and removing soil, making dikes, and other household activities. The length, width and thickness of the blade generally ranges from 25-30, 20-25 and 1-3 cm respectively. The weight varies from 2 kg to 3.25 kg. It is used in small plots where cultivation with country plough is difficult.

Tillage using Indigenous country plough

Indigenous country plough (langal)  A very old implement used by the farmers for many centuries for land preparation. There are several local names, such as Nankol, Nahal, Akkoing, Bangla langal, Shiami langal etc. It is perhaps the most widely used implement in Bangladesh. There are more than 100 kinds of country ploughs. It has three different parts: (i) bottom and handle, (ii) beam, and (iii) share. The plough bottom and the handle is made from a single piece of wood. However, in some regions the bottom and handle are made separately and then fixed together. The plough bottom may be wider or narrower depending upon the soil condition and size of bullock.

The plough is generally 1.9-2.0 metre in length, 5.0-7.5 cm in width, and 3.75-5.0 cm in thickness. The ploughshare is made of steel of about 21-345 cm in length, 2.5-11.5 cm in width and 0.32-3.0 cm in thickness. The country plough can cut soil but cannot invert it. The capacity of a country plough is about 0.16-0.2 ha/day. Some improved types of country ploughs are being used in many parts of the country nowadays.

Single animal drawn plough (mohisher langal)  Similar to the country plough in construction, but it is operated by a single bullock or buffalo. The tying arrangement of the plough to the neckharness is also different. The neckharness, commonly known as joal, is a beam, generally made from 1.25-1.6 metre long bamboo or wood, and is used in both types of ploughs. There are several sizes and shapes of neckharnesses. It is used mostly in the Sylhet region.

Land leveling by Ladder or Moi

Ladder (moi)  The ladder, also locally named as chongha, chongham, hapta, septa, dolon, dolna, hatta, keyai, basoi etc, is used to level the ploughed land and also to break soil clods after cultivation. Often it is used to cover crop seeds after broadcasting. The construction of ladder is very simple; a village carpenter makes it from bamboo, but in some places it is made from hard wood. It is drawn by a pair of bullocks or buffaloes. The ladder is connected to the ends of the neckharness with ropes during operation.

Mallet (mugur)  The main purpose of mugur is to break the large soil clods when breaking of clods by laddering is not satisfactory. It is also known as uja, kurish, shappaya etc. It is generally made of bamboo or wood.

Tillage by Power tiller

Power tiller  An engine-operated soil tilling unit. During the sixties power tillers were first imported from Japan on a limited scale. Since the late eighties, however power tillers have been gaining popularity in Bangladesh due to the acute shortage of animal power in cultivation. There are about 100,000 power tillers now in use in Bangladesh. A single axle, two wheeled, 7-12 hp power tiller can cultivate about 1 ha of land per day. At present, power tillers are imported mainly from China. Some local manufacturers have started to make power tillers recently.    

Hydrotiller  It consists of a rotary tilling unit, a pontoon and an engine. The machine is suitable for cultivating marshy land where a power tiller cannot be operated. It can cultivate about 1 ha of land/day.

Tractor  A self propelled machine which is used for cultivation, carrying loads, hulling, etc. It is powered by a diesel engine of 40-60 hp. It can work both in running and stationery conditions. At stationery condition it delivers power to the machine with a shaft called power take off (PTO) shaft. Pulleys, hydraulic system and drawbar are empowered through PTO shaft. Tractors are categorized according to their structure and the type of job they perform, such as 2-wheeled, 3-wheeled, 4-wheeled etc.

Machinery for seeding, planting and intercultural operation  Although seeding, planting and intercultural operations are mostly done manually by Bangladeshi farmers, certain devices are used for reducing cost of production and improving yields.

Paddy seedlings are transplanted by traditional methods

Since ancient times seed sowing and planting operations have been accomplished mainly by traditional manual methods. In dry field conditions paddy seed is randomly broadcast by hand. Under wet field conditions paddy seedlings are transplanted randomly in puddled land. However, for line transplanting, labourers use a graduated wooden stick called Kyme as a guide.

In transplanting, farmers firstly sow rice seeds in a small plot and grow seedlings for 3-4 weeks. Then they uproot the seedlings and transplant them in a puddled field. Other grain crops such as wheat, maize, pulses etc are cultivated in dry field conditions. However, herbs, shrubs, bushes, and trees are always cultivated through the manual planting method.

Jhum cultivation

Jhum cultivation is usually practiced in the hilly areas of Bangladesh. Land preparation by conventional tillage implements are difficult, and at times, impossible. In hill slopes instead of cultivating the entire area, people of hilly areas make holes in the ground with the help of special tools such as knives, dao, small spades, axes, kurals, khuntis, sickles etc and put seeds or seedlings of different crops in those holes and fill them up with earth.

Modern seeding and planting machinery  (i) Seed drill: consists of a wheel, a hopper, two furrow openers, a press wheel and a handle. The furrow openers open the furrows and seeds are dropped into the furrow from the hopper and subsequently covered with the soil by the press wheel attached behind the furrow openers. This seed drill is used to sow seeds in lines at equal distances facilitating the use of hand hoe or rotary weeder to save labour as well as quantity of seeds. The capacity is about 0.4 ha/man-day. (ii) BRRI drum seeder: made of light weight tubing and sheet metal. It has 8 rows, 18 to 25 cm apart. This machine successfully sows sprouted paddy seeds in lines on a puddled land. It is a new concept over traditional transplanting. This machine seeds paddy in neat rows which can be conveniently weeded with push type mechanical weeders. It permits uniform seeding of fairly low seed rates of 50-100 kg/ha. The capacity is about 0.1 ha/man-day. (iii) BRRI manual rice transplanter: consists of a seedling tray, a handle with seedling pickers and wooden skid. It can transplant paddy seedling raised by special (dapog) method on trays or polyethylene sheets. It can also be used for weeding. There are provisions of 6 rows at 20 cm apart. The capacity is about 0.14 ha/man-day.

Weeder  Four categories of weeders are generally used in Bangladesh (i) Nirani, (ii) Achra (Rake), (iii) Hand hoe, and (iv) Rotary weeder. (i) Since ancient times nirani has been in use to control weeds. It has several local names, such as Seni kachi, niri kachi, senipachoon, pashri, kurmi, khurpi, pachoon, dahuki, pushri, punja, tengi, tengari, douti, tanakodal, etc. A man can operate a nirani with his hand in dry land. It consists mainly of a steel blade and a wooden handle. The size and shape of nirani depend on soil conditions and technique of the local blacksmiths of specific region. (ii) Rake or Achra is used in controlling, thinning and loosening of soil crust of land having seedlings of about 1-2 weeks. It is also known as bidha, bindha, nangala, nangula, hatnangula etc. The main part of achra is made of wood or bamboo. Iron or bamboo nails are fixed to the main wooden part. It is generally 1.5-2.0 metres in length. (iii) A hand hoe consists of a front wheel of about 25 cm in diameter, 2-3 hoes, and a wooden handle. The wheel and the hoes are made of steel. It is suitable for weeding in dry field conditions. (iv) A rotary weeder is also known as the Japanese Rice Weeder. It consists of a tray and one or two rows of spikes attached to a wooden or iron rotor. The weight of a Japanese weeder varies from 3-5 kg. This type of weeder is used in wet field conditions. It can be used in row crop cultivation.

Pest control devices  (i) Pichkary-  An indigenous implement generally used for applying insecticides manually. It is made of bamboo. The piston is a bamboo stick and at one end of the stick a piece of rag is wound around. This acts as the piston head. Farmers can easily make a pichkary. (ii) Sprayer- Several types of sprayers are used in Bangladesh, the Knapsack type being the most common. A sprayer consists of a liquid tank, a pressure chamber, and a nozzle. The liquid tank may contain about 10 litre of spray material. (iii) Rat trap (Idurer fand)  There are several types and categories of rat traps in Bangladesh.

Traditional irrigation method

Irrigation Machinery  Both traditional and modern irrigation equipment coexist in Bangladesh. These devices supply irrigation water from various sources, such as dug wells, rivers, beels, hoars, canals, ponds, shallow tubewells and deep tubewells. Irrigation devices/pumps may be grouped in the following categories:  

Traditional water lift  (i) Counter poise-bucket lift (Duf)- This device consists of a long bamboo pole pivoted as a lever on two posts. It is locally known as Tara, duf, kerka, etc. A weight, usually a large stone, is fixed to the shorter end of the pole. This weight serves as a counterpoise to a bucket suspended by a rope or a rod attached to the long arm of the lever. A man pulls down the rope or rod until the bucket is immersed in the water of a dug well. The bucket is then drawn up by the counter weight. Dug wells are usually made by hand tools such as spades, shovels etc by manual labourers following a traditional method. Centrifugal pumps are also employed to lift water from these types of wells.

(ii) Swing basket (Seuti)-  The swing basket is one of the ancient water lifts. It has several local names, such as Seuti, heot, sechni, ucha, hocho, uchi, shayot, uri, dobki, heith, hichuni, Ichuni, lui, duri, jhajra, dobka etc. It consists of a basket or shovel-like scoop to which ropes are attached. Two persons stand facing each other and swing the basket to fill water. The basket is raised and water thus lifted is discharged into the field. It is generally used for lifting water from surface water sources.

(iii) Doon-  A manually operated boat shaped trough closed at one end and open at the other. Other local names are Donga, Kunda, Kon, Junt, etc. The closed end of the trough is lifted with a rope to a long pole, which is pivoted as a lever on a post. A weight is fixed to the shorter end of the lever. The open end is hinged to discharge point. Water is lifted by the counter weight on the lever. It is mainly used for lifting water from surface water sources.

Improved pumps-  (i) Diaphragm pump- This pump was developed by the Agricultural Engineering Division of bangladesh rice research institute (BRRI) in 1977. The pump is made primarily of two suction chambers each of 35 cm sq in size made from steel sheets. It is locally known as Baqui Pump. (ii) Reciprocating pump or Tara pump- The device is a shallow well suction pump and constructed almost entirely of cast iron. (iii) Treadle pump (Dheki Pump)- A shallow tubewell suction pump. The pump head is a twin cylinder made of steel sheet; the plungers are molded PVC cup seals; the check valves are simple flap valves made of rubber. The pumps superstructure is made of bamboo and is normally installed with PVC tubewell (3.75 cm dia). (iv) Rower pump- This pump was introduced in 1979 by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and the Mirpur Agricultural Workshop and Training School (MAWTS). The Rower pump is mainly a manually operated reciprocating pump.

Modern pumps- (i) Power pump- Mostly of the centrifugal type and consists mainly of one stationery part called casing and one rotary part called impeller. During operation the impeller sucks water into the casing along the centre of the impeller and delivers water along the periphery of the impeller by the centrifugal force of rotation. In Bangladesh various kinds of power operated pumps are currently being used. Among them the one used for pumping water from surface water sources (pond, river, beel etc) is known as the low lift pump (LLP).

The other form of power pump in use is the shallow tubewell; it consists of a pipe made of steel or PVC and a well point forced into the ground by driving the pipe with some suitable means.

Deep tubewells are constructed like shallow tubewells but their depth is greater than that of shallow tubewells. The depth of deep tubewells depends on the hydro-geological characteristics of a particular formation. They are generally 45-100 metres in depth.

Harvesting, threshing, drying and cleaning machinery  Harvesting, threshing, drying and winnowing of crops in Bangladesh are still done with traditional devices. However, modern threshing implements are becoming increasingly popular for certain crop varieties.

Traditional harvesting Sickle is the only implement used to harvest both rice and wheat crops. It has been used throughout the ages in Bangladesh. It is variously known as Kachi, Kanchi, Chari, Chakrey, Kaicha etc. It has two parts: (i) a slightly curved serrated blade made of mild steel, and (ii) a handle made of wood.  
Traditional harvesting

Dao  is another tool made of steel used for various jobs such as cutting of jute, bamboo, sugarcane, etc, and for cleaning bushes. It is also locally known as haisa, shole, bagi, seni-dao, jat.

Modern harvesting  A reaper or mower is a power-operated harvesting machine. These are generally used to cut grass in large government farms. However, a mower only cut and lays down the crop in rows in the field. Afterwards, the mowed crop is collected manually and carried to the threshing floor.

Traditional threshing  (i) Molon- It is not a machine, but a widely used method of separating grains from the stalk of a plant in rural Bangladesh. Here, two to four cows/bullocks are tied together and made to walk over the harvested crop in a circular path.

Hand beating is another method of traditional threshing in Bangladesh. Farmers use a metal drum or wooden plank or a bamboo platform to beat bundles of crop. Grains are separated by the beating action.

1.Using domestic animals
2. Beating on the bamboo platform
3. With the help of Pedal Thresher
4. With the help of Power Thresher

Different methods of Threshing: Modern threshing  (i) Pedal threshers- The pedal thresher consists of a triangular metal frame, where a threshing drum, a crank, and two gears are assembled. The threshing drum is mainly made of wood where spikes of mild steel wires are engraved in rows. Threshing is accomplished with these spikes. The threshing drum is attached to a shaft with a bush and a bearing. The operator stands behind the thresher and holds the bundle of paddy over the threshing drum so that panicles remain on the threshing drum. While rotating the operator make the threshing drum to rotate clockwise using the pedal. The spikes separate the grain from the rice plants. (ii) BRRI open drum power thresher- An improvised version of the pedal thresher powered by a small diesel engine. This machine is especially suitable for female workers. The length of the drum is about 1.5 metre. Three to four persons can work together and can thresh about 400-500 kg paddy/hr. (iii) Power thresher- Both threshing and winnowing action is accomplished through a power operated thresher consisting a metal frame, a threshing drum, a blower assembly and a cleaning assembly.

Traditional drying In Bangladesh crop drying is generally accomplished through the traditional sun drying method in home yards or open fields.

Mechanical drying  (i) The BRRI batch dryer is made of brick, woven jute, and bamboo, with an electrical gear built and assembled locally. Pot furnaces burning rice husks are used as heating element. The capacity is about 1000 kg in 8 hours. An electric fan is used to control air flow and temperature (about 45°C) by adjusting the tiles above the furnace. Hot air of relatively low humidity passes through the grain bed evaporating moisture and warming the grain. The unit is quite effective for seed drying.  
Drying through Traditional Method

(ii) BRRI SRR-1 dryer consists of two bamboo-made hollow cylinders (Dole), a 1000-watt electric heater, a blower, and a 0.5 hp motor. It can dry about 1000 kg of wet paddy in 60 hours. (iii) The commercial dryer is a fully mechanical drying unit where hot air is passed through wet grain kept in a bed or bin.

Traditional winnowing by Kula

Traditional winnowing  (i) Kula is the most common winnowing implement traditionally used in rural Bangladesh. It is generally made from woven bamboo splits. (ii) Chalon is generally made from woven bamboo splits like a kula but it is circular in structure and its platform is perforated. (iii) Hand operated winnower is becoming popular among farmers. A man can clean 300-400 kg of paddy per hour. It can be operated even in bad weather conditions. A hand-operated winnowing machine consists of a hopper, a blower, a frame, and an outlet. (iv) A power winnower consists of a power source, an oscillating screen, and a blower. The power source may be an engine, or a motor. It is mainly used in farms, rice mills, and seed industries.

Postharvest processing machine and storage structure  Postharvest processing machinery include those tools and machines which are used for shaping up agricultural products into consumable forms.

Parboiling  The process of parboiling of paddy consists of two activities- soaking and steaming. In rural Bangladesh women usually do the job. After being soaked in clay or aluminium pots or drums, the soaked paddy is partially filled with water and placed over a traditional furnace in earthen pots or drums. The pot is then heated and the paddy is parboiled with boiling water for 30-45 minutes.

In commercial rice mills, rice parboiling includes both soaking and steaming. The following structures/ machineries are used: (i) A brick-built soaking tank, 5-10 ton capacity. In the soaking process, the paddy is kept in a submerged condition in it for 24-48 hours. During steaming, the soaked paddy is exposed to steam heat treatment for 15-20 minutes in steaming chambers.

Milling  It includes the operations of hulling, polishing and whitening of rice grain. Hulling involves removing the husk from the paddy without removing the bran from the endosperm. Polishing and whitening, however involves the separation of bran from rice endosperm and providing a shining appearance. About 67% of clean rice is obtained after completion of the milling process. Different traditional and modern milling machineries are now being used in Bangladesh.

Traditional milling  Of the traditional rice milling devices Dheki is widely used in rural Bangladesh. It is made of wood. Usually women operate this device. Its capacity is only about 30 to 40 kg of clean rice/day. Another device, morter and pastle, locally known variously as gail, siagail, chung, urungain, sum-gahin etc, is made of a solid cylindrical wooden beam of about 1.5 metre long and 5 cm in diameter, with a iron ring fixed at one end and a wooden morter. It is also widely used in rural areas for making pressed rice (Chira) and rice powder for cakes.  
Rice milling through traditional method

Doloin, another manually operated centrifugal husking device, has two segments. The upper part is a hopper made of woven bamboo, the bottom of which is fitted with a cone-shaped disc. The lower part is almost similar in shape, while the top is fitted with a disc similar to that of the upper part. These discs are provided with small pieces of wooden bars radially arranged in order to provide friction. Grains are poured in the hopper and become dehusked by the frictional discs. Doloin is generally found in Chittagong Hilly areas.

Modern milling  (i) Small Engleberg hullers- About 85% hullers are of this type and 70-75% of the total paddy in Bangladesh are processed by this milling system. The Engleberg huller consists of a cylindrical rotor fitted in a housing. The bottom half of the housing is fitted with a slotted sheet called sieve. The rotor is driven by a motor or an engine with a suitable drive arrangement. (ii) Large Engleberg rice mills employ a slightly improved system for rice processing. These rice mills have neither a paddy cleaner nor a rice grader. (iii) Mini automatic rice mill has the salient features of a modern rice mill and consists of a pair of rubber rollers for shelling (dehusking), a husk aspirator for separating the husk, a paddy separator to separate paddy during shelling operation, and a polisher to polish the brown rice. (iv) Large automatic rice mills- use modern techniques for rice processing. The paddy is pre-cleaned before soaking at high temperature and parboiled under pressure by steaming. Then paddy is dried in a dryer and husked by rubber roll sheller, or disc hullers. The unhusked paddy is separated from the brown rice by a paddy separator and is recycled back to the huller.

Processing of oil seeds traditional method

Processing of oil seeds  Bangladesh produces about 0.47 million tons of oil seeds. The oil seeds are processed by existing bullock ghanis and mechanical oil expellers. These units are dispersed all over Bangladesh. (i) Bullock ghani- is found in remote villages. It is made of wood and operated by a bullock or cow moving around a circular path. It is locally known as Kalur ghani, teler gach, etc. A bullock ghani crushes about 5 kg of mustard seeds in 4-5 hours. (ii) Power ghani- looks like a traditional bullock ghani, but its components are made of steel and powered by an engine or a mortor.

(iii) Mechanical oil expellers- these are generally found in towns, bazars and urban areas. Traditional bullock ghanis are gradually disappearing with the introduction of power mechanical oil expellers. They are made of an iron screw press powered by a motor or engine connected by a belt.

Processing of pulses  is done with a stone disc (Jata) which consists of two stone discs. The bottom disc is fixed but the upper disc is rotated manually over the bottom disc with a wooden handle. The upper disc has an opening through which unhusked pulse seeds are poured. The husked pulse seeds come out through the periphery of the disc.

Sugarcane crusher  consists of a wooden frame and three rollers made of solid cylindrical iron. Among the rollers, one is the driver while other two are the driven rollers. The driver roller is operated by a pair of buffaloes or two pair of bullocks or a diesel engine installed in a suitable power transmission arrangement.

Storage structure  In rural households, crop grains are stored mainly in traditional structures such as Dole, Matka, Berr, Kuthi, Gola, gunny bags etc. However, godowns and silos are used for short and long-term storage by government and private institutions. Of the traditional storage structures, the most commonly used one at the household level is bamboo containers or Dole. It is made from bamboo splits that are cylindrical, about 0.5-1.0 m in diameter. Farmers can store 240-250 kg of paddy in a Dole which is usually kept on a bamboo platform. It has several regional names such as dooli, lai, kalloom, berang, berr, auri, ugar etc.

Traditional methods of crop grains storage

Gola  is a large rectangular or cylindrical container constructed over a bamboo platform. Generally, rich farmers construct golas to store their paddy. It is also locally known as Varar, Zabar, Mora, Motka, Auri etc.

Matka  or a large earthen pot looks like a large pitcher made of clay. In one such container farmers can store 40-50 kg of paddy.

Gunny bag or Chhala made from woven jute is widely used for transportation, marketing and storage of grains everywhere in Bangladesh. Even in government godowns, grains are stored in gunny bags for short and long term storage.

Mud bin or Kuthi  is also made of mud and is generally larger than matka. It may be rectangular or cylindrical in shape. Farmers can store about 100-500 kg of paddy in it.

Godown  It is mainly a brick built-house containing enough ventilation and moisture reducing devices. The capacity of a godown varies from 500-1000 m tons of grains. There are about 750 godowns to preserve nearly 0.6 million m tons of food grain in Bangladesh.

Silo  is a modern storage structure used generally government procurement institutions. Silos are used mainly for bulk storage of imported grains. These are equipped with modern emptying and filling devices.

Rice by-product processing machinery/technology  By-product processing machinery/technology includes all sorts of handtools, implements, containers and indigenous method which are used to make different food items from the crop grains.

Chida making technology/machinery  The process of chida making is done according to an age old method in Bangladesh. Freshly harvested paddy (without husking) is heated in a pan for 5-10 minutes. Then the hot paddy grains are allowed to undergo high compressive stress. Indigenous dhekis and Sia-gails are generally used to impart such vigorous compression through pounding or hammering action. As a result, hot paddy grains become deformed into thin-flat shaped chips. The modern chida mill consists of a rotating bowl and a rotating roller. Both the bowl and the roller are made of cast iron.

Mudi  or puffed rice is another valuable rice by-product for human consumption. Paddy is heated for 15-20 minutes, and then soaked in water for about 24 hours. The soaked paddy is then parboiled, dried, and milled in a conventional rice mill. Mudi makers mix about 1/2 kg of common salt solution per 100 kg of milled rice. The milled rice thus obtained is heated again in an iron pan for 10-15 minutes through continuous stirring with a cluster of bamboo sticks. Sand is also heated on a separate clay pot. At the time when the sand as well as the milled rice attains the expected temperature, the heated milled rice is quickly put into the container with heated sand. Women take the container of heated sand out of the furnace and hold it with her hands and starts swinging. Because of the swinging action, the heated milled rice gets swollen and bursts into larger shapes which is known as mudi.

Rice powder for cake making  The milled rice is soaked into water for 2-3 hours. After being soaked, it is put in a perforated container. The rice is then pounded with Dheki until it becomes rice powder. The rice powder thus obtained is mixed with water in different proportions for different kinds of rice cakes. There are about 100 different kinds of rice cakes that are prepared from rice powder in Bangladesh.

Rural transportation machinery  Different devices are used to carry or transport goods or materials in rural areas. Since modern transportation is virtually absent in remote villages, the rural people still use old-age methods or devices. Traditionally, farm workers carry harvested crops to the threshing floor on their heads. A man can carry about 50-60 kg with this manual method. Other devices or vehicles that are used for carriage are as follows:

Bahuk It is mainly made of bamboo split and is specially made to carry goods on the shoulder in rural areas where road communication is poor. The device is usually 1.5-2.0 metre in length and 3-6 cm in breadth. A man can carry a 50-70 kg load up to a distance of 3-5 km.

Animal cart (Garur gadi) Animal cart or ox-cart is generally used for carrying crops from fields, and transporting, carrying fertiliser, seeds, and agricultural products for marketing. It consists of two wheels made of wood, a bamboo platform, and a yoke. It is locally known as garur-gadi or mohiser-gadi, depending on the type of draught animal. The platform is usually 100-130 cm wide and 5-6 metre long, and can carry 500-1500 kg goods to a distance of 15-20 km.

Cattle/Buffalo cart used for crop grains transportation

Push cart (Thela gadi)  It looks like an ox-cart, but is operated by the pull and push action of labourers. Usually, 3-4 persons are engaged in operating the cart. A pushcart can carry a 500-1500 kg load to a distance of 5-10 km.

Horse cart (Ghodar gadi)  In some rural areas horse carts are still in use. It consists of a wooden platform and two wooden wheels fitted to an axle. The length of the horse cart is about 4.5 metres. It is pulled by a horse and can carry a 400-500 kg load to a distance of about 5-6 km.

Rickshaw van (Van gadi)  With the development of road communication, animal-carts started disappearing gradually from rural Bangladesh and are being replaced by the mechanical carrier locally known as van gadi. Rickshaw vans are now the main transport medium in many rural areas due to their speed. A man can pull 500-1500 kg of goods to a distance of up to 30 km/day using a rickshaw van.  [Mohammad A Baqui]

Farm inputs and implements

Farm inputs and implements Irrigation water, as well as inputs like seeds, fertilisers, labour, and pesticides are the physical determinants of crop production. Balanced application of these inputs can only ensure higher output from a crop at the farm level. Because seeds are the basic inputs, research and extension services are involved in developing and supplying good quality seeds of high yielding varieties of crops. A good number of high yielding varieties of rice, wheat, maize, jute, sugarcane, pulses, oilseeds, tuber crops, and vegetables have so far been developed and released for farm level use. Generally, farmers are used to keeping their own seeds. Although bangladesh agricultural development corporation (BADC), a public sector organisation, was once solely responsible for the supply of certified seeds, it could hardly supply more than 5 percent of the total requirement. Consequently the private sector is now involved in the seed business.

Along with high yielding crop varieties, use of irrigation water input started to show an increase from the mid-60s. Area under irrigation has been increasing progressively. More than 30 percent of the net-cropped area has been brought under irrigation so far.

Fertiliser is another important input for crop production closely associated with the expansion of irrigation and high yielding crop varieties. There has been a rapid increase in fertiliser use in Bangladesh since the early sixty’s. In 1962/63, the total quantity of N, P, K nutrients from urea, ammonium sulphate, TSP and MP was only about 20 thousand metric tons. Since 1980, the use of S and Zn nutrients started, along with N, P, and K. In 1995/96, the total quantity of nutrients used increased to 1.2 million m tons. The fertilisers used were urea, ammonium sulphate, TSP, SSP, MP, gypsum, and zinc-sulphate. At present fertiliser nutrient use per ha cropped area per year is about 100 kg. Besides, some quantity of organic and biofertilisers are also used.

Sometimes pests damage crops to a great extent. To fight pests and to protect crops from harm, pesticides are often used, along with other methods of pest management. On an average, about 3.5 million kg of pesticides are used in Bangladesh annually, including insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides.

Along with modernization of agriculture, different farm implements have come into use for different operations. Both traditional and improved types of farm implements are now being used. The most common farm implements that are presently used for different operations are as follows:

Farm operations Farm implements
Land preparation Wooden ploughs: iron mould board ploughs; power tillers; tractors
Seeding Manual and power seeder
Weeding Wetland weeder; dry land weeder; handhoe
Irrigation Done; hand pump; treadle pump and power pump; shallow tubewell and deep tubewell
Spraying Knapsack sprayer; power sprayer, foot pump sprayer for orchards
Harvesting Traditional hand sickle; power drawn reaper
Threshing and crushing Pedal thresher for rice and wheat; power thresher for rice and wheat; manual and power maize sheller; animal and power- drawn sugarcane crusher
Drying Solar dryer; batch dryer; large automatic dryer for rice mill
Milling Large automatic rice mill; traditional dekhi

[Nurul Islam Bhuiyan]

See also  bangladesh agricultural development corporation; irrigation.

Technology used in agriculture

Technology used in agriculture Application of skills, tools and machines for agricultural purposes is a universal phenomenon. Agricultural technologies affect and are affected by the society that uses them, and the importance of technological development can only be evaluated after consideration of a variety of social and technical factors. Agricultural operations in Bangladesh are more of the traditional rural type and are profoundly affected by local conditions of weather, soils, water, pests and diseases, and by land tenure systems. Most agricultural lands are fragmented and the farmers do not generally use as such modern implements. The indigenous technology practised by the farmers of this subcontinent for centuries, in some form, are still in use in rural agriculture.

Animal and Mechanical Power  In agriculture, power is required to perform different operations like ploughing, sowing, irrigation, intercultural operations, harvesting, threshing, cleaning, sorting, processing etc. This power is obtained from human, animal and mechanical sources.

Animal power  During the ancient period, agricultural operations were carried out with human labour. Later, men were able to domesticate animals such as cattle, buffaloes, horses, camels, donkeys, and elephants, to supplement human power. Of them, cattle and buffaloes are mainly used for agricultural operations in Bangladesh now. Cattle of Bangladesh are smaller in size compared to that of other countries. On an average, they can exert a force equal to one-tenth of its body weight, though for a short period, they can apply forces many more times than the average force.

To calculate power available for crop production, it is assumed that each bullock and male buffalo can produce 0.373 kW power and each cow and female buffalo can produce 0.25 kW. Based on the 1996 census of agriculture, there are about 5,372,000 bullocks, 1,678,000 cows, 430,854 male buffaloes, and 76,483 female buffaloes used for work. The total output from all the animals is about 2603 mW. The share of animal power in total direct power input in agricultural production is about 24 percent. Utilization of animals as a draft power source depends mainly on their harnessing, training, and taming.

Mechanical power  With the introduction of animal for agricultural operations, the burden and drudgery of human being has been reduced considerably. Humans still have to apply their own energy to get the work done by animals and also for doing many agricultural operations. The use of mechanical power in agriculture further reduced human drudgery and released many agricultural labourers to other attractive jobs requiring less muscle power. In fact, the use of mechanical power has revolutionized agricultural operations and output per worker has increased tremendously. Today’s world population could not be fed without the application of mechanical power in agriculture. From the middle of the nineteen eighties, the use of power tillers (two-wheel tractors), usually with a capacity of 8 kw, has increased considerably in Bangladesh. It is now possible to prepare land required for multiple cropping in time because of these implements.

Land preparation is one of the most intensive power-consuming operations and on an average, about 40 percent of the total energy input in agriculture is used for this purpose. At present, apart from about 2603 mW power available from animals for land preparation, about 150,000 power tillers and 5200 tractors consume about 1356 mW power. The next most intensive power consuming operation is irrigation. About 54,000 low-lift pumps, 24,000 deep tubewells, and 483,000 shallow tubewells consume about 4293 mW power.

As in other developing and developed countries, human and animal power is costlier than mechanical power in present day Bangladesh. For example, the cost of land preparation per ha by country ploughs, power tillers, and tractors is about Tk 1300, Tk 1080 and Tk 810, respectively. The cost of threshing paddy by human, pedal thresher and power thresher is Tk 0.25/kg, Tk 0.18/kg and Tk 0.18/kg, respectively.

Agricultural production is directly related to energy input to agriculture. In Bangladesh, the direct energy input for crop production is only 0.74 kw/ha, and is one of the lowest in the world. Unless the power input is increased, agricultural production cannot be increased significantly. The only option to increase the energy input is to increase mechanical power through the introduction of more machinery in different agricultural operations.

Traditional and modern irrigation  The artificial application of water to the soil for the purpose of supplying the moisture required for plant growth. It also cools down the plant environment. Doons and swing baskets are the most widely used traditional devices for irrigation in Bangladesh. Doon is a small boat-shaped device, usually 3 to 4.5 m long, acting on a fulcrum. It is made of plain tin sheets or woods. One man can operate it. Its discharge capacity ranges from 117 to 378 litres per min. When the surface water level is within 2.25 m, it is the best manual method of irrigation. A swing basket is a triangular shaped basket made of a plain tin sheet or stripped bamboo or wood. The basket is swung by two persons standing at two ends of two ropes fitted to the basket. At 90 cm head, the discharge may be up to 227 l/min. Like doon it can lift water from a maximum of 2.25 m head. It is also a widely used traditional water-lifting device.

Modern irrigation methods were introduced in Bangladesh in the 1960s with a view to growing extra rice during the dry season. Low lift pumps (LLP), deep tubewells (DTW), shallow tubewells (STW) and canals are examples of modern irrigation methods. Though canal irrigation system was introduced for irrigation in Egypt as early as 5000 BC, it is a relatively new method utilized in Bangladesh. Low lift Pumps (LLP) are used for lifting water from a relatively low head. This is essentially a 28 to 112 litres per second (lps) (1 to 4 cusec) centrifugal pump directly coupled with an oil engine or an electric motor. Since a centrifugal pump is used for lifting water, its maximum head is 7 m. LLPs are set on solid grounds by the bank of the water sources from which water is lifted. Its use is limited to areas having good sources of surface water. At present, there are about 54,000 LLPs in Bangladesh.

In Deep Tubewells (DTW), a turbine is installed under water. The turbine pump is operated by an oil engine or electric motor coupled with the shaft of the pump on the ground surface. In a submersible pump, the pump is coupled with an electric motor and is installed under water. In Bangladesh, most DTWs used for irrigation is of 56 lps capacity and are of the vertical turbine type. Depending on the aquifer, the depth of DTW varies from 30 m to more than 100 m.

The Shallow Tubewell (SWT) is constructed to lift water from a relatively shallow depth, usually up to 30 metres. A centrifugal pump usually having a capacity of 14 lps, is coupled with an oil engine or electric motor and is set on the surface to lift water from the tubewell. STW was introduced in 1970s and became very popular quickly because of its low initial cost and because it is easy to construct and operate.

During the last three decades, different types of manual pumps like No. 6 hand pumps, rower pumps, treadle pumps, BARI pumps, etc were used for irrigation. But their coverage is not very significant compared to traditional methods, LLP, DTW or STW.

Canal irrigation  Due to its flat topography, Bangladesh does not have a good potential for canal irrigation. Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) has 376 small- and large-scale surface water projects, of which G-K Project (ganges-kobadak irrigation project), Narayanganj-Narsingdi Irrigation Project, Barisal Irrigation Project (BIP), Bhola Irrigation Project, Chandpur Irrigation Project (CIP), Pabna Irrigation Project, Meghna-Dhonagada Project, Karnafuli Irrigation Project, Tista Irrigation Project, and Mohuri Irrigation Project are the main canal irrigation projects. Subsurface and drip irrigation techniques are not used in Bangladesh and only a few tea gardens use the sprinkler irrigation system.

The use of modern methods is increasing rapidly since their inception. Ground water irrigation covers more than twice the area of surface water irrigation. Groundwater irrigation has witnessed a significant expansion in the last two decades.

Table 6 Trends in the change of area irrigated.

Year Area irrigated
Traditional (thousand ha) (%) Modern (thousand ha) (%)
1971-72 589.62 56.31 457.45 43.69
1976-77 514.67 42.35 700.59 57.65
1981-82 587.28 30.45 1138.48 69.54
1986-87 402.22 18.29 1796.77 81.71
1991-92 392.10 12.14 2837.20 87.86
1996-97 362.95 9.83 3329.61 90.17

Introduction of irrigation generates employment in rural areas since the irrigation process requires additional labour. Moreover, growing extra crop in the dry season employs extra labour as increased production necessitates additional labour for marketing and processing.  [Kshirode Chandra Roy]

Fertilisers and manures  Fertilisers and manures are sources of basic plant nutrients. Among factors that affect crop production, fertiliser is the single most important component that plays a crucial role in yield increase, provided other factors are not too limiting. Chemical fertilisers today hold the key to the success of the crop production system of Bangladesh agriculture, and contribute about 50-60% of the total production. This important input first came into use in the Bangladesh agriculture is in 1951 with the introduction of 2,698 m tons of ammonium sulphate. But its use started increasing steadily only from the mid-sixties and paralleled the introduction and expansion of modern crop varieties accompanied by the development of irrigation facilities. The increasing trend in fertiliser use, particularly urea-N, still continues. Until 1980, three primary major plant nutrients (N, P, K) were supplied from fertilisers like Urea, TSP and MP to the soils. In the past, fertilisers were handled by the public sector and heavy subsidy was given, in particular to TSP and MP fertilisers. In 1992/93, privatization in this area was introduced and subsidies to fertilisers have now been drastically reduced. However, The possibility of marketing poor quality and adulterated fertilisers has increased. In order to protect the interest of honest traders and farmers, ‘The Fertiliser Control Order 1995’ was promulgated by the Government.

Manures are materials of plant and animal origin that are applied to the soil for increasing crop yields. These are alternatively called organic fertilisers and are generally voluminous substances, used either in raw or processed condition. The use of manures in Bangladesh agriculture is a very old and traditional practice. Different types of manures are being used in the soil even today, of which animal manure, poultry manure, farmyard manure, and green manure are notable. Cowdung is the most important animal manure, although this is largely used in the country as fuel. An annual application of 5 m tons/ha manures (dry matter basis) can reduce the need of 33 percent of chemical fertilisers.  [Nurul Islam Bhuiyan]

Pesticide Any chemical used in farming, gardening, or indoors to kill plants or animals that are considered to be pests. Pesticides are of several types: insecticides (to kill insects), nematocides (to kill nematodes or roundworms), acaricides (to kill ticks and mites), rodenticides (to kill rats), fungicides (to control fungal diseases), and herbicides (to kill plants, mainly those considered weeds). Chemical pesticides are usually contact, stomach, or fumigant poisons. A contact poison may have immediate or delayed effect after physical contact with a pest. Stomach poisons must be ingested by pests along with their food for lethal effects. As a rule, contact poisons are also good stomach poisons. Fumigants which may initially have the form of a solid, liquid or gas, kill pests while in a gaseous state. Some insecticides and fungicides are systemic, ie, they are translocated by plants from the area of application to other plant parts, where they affect only pests that feed on the treated crop. Pesticides made from plants are comparatively safer for warm-blooded animals such as the pyrethrum, rotenone, etc.

Table 7 Use of pesticides during 2002-2005.

Year Insecticide Fungicide Herbicide Rodenticide Total (m tons)
Granular Liquid Powder
2002 12335 1497 142 2419 964 39 17393
2003 11781 1830 155 2941 1354 19 18080
2004 12113 2008 229 4279 3463 23 22115
2005 14061 2511 323 5772 2775 24 25466

Source Bangladesh Pesticide Association.

Most potent pesticides are synthetic products. To date, thousands of chemicals have been discovered having pesticidal properties of every description. The largest group of pesticides are insecticides, which are classified according to their chemical composition as chlorinated hydrocarbons (such as the DDT and its analogues), cyclodiene compounds (such as dieldrin, aldrin, heptachlor), carbamates (such as sevin, sevidol), and organophosphates (such as malathion, diazinon, carbicron, etc). Pesticides are available for use under various formulations or physical forms, namely, granular, liquid or emulsifiable concentrate, dust, wettable powder, aerosol, etc. Based on formulations these are applied through various methods: sprays, dusts, atomizable fluids, low pressure aerosols, smokes, and seed dressings.

Pesticide chemicals have been used in Bangladesh since 1956. In the past the Department of Plant Protection of the Government imported pesticides and distributed them free to the farmers. From 1975, the Government started selling pesticides at subsidized prices and continued to do so until 1979. The subsidy was fully withdrawn in 1979 and the trade was handed over to the Pesticide Association of Bangladesh (PAB), a private organisation. A technical committee, however, determines which pesticides are to be imported or to be used. Nearly two dozens business enterprises procure or produce pesticides and sell the products through their agents. Because of their quick and visible effect, and low cost, the use of pesticides became very popular among the farmers. As a result, the total consumption of insecticides in the country rose from a few m tons in 1956 to 5,560 m tons in 1973. Although the subsidy was fully withdrawn in 1979, pesticide consumption, after a brief fall in 1980s, is now showing an upward trend. Presents the distribution pattern of different pesticides during 1996 through 1999.

Pesticides have not only greatly improved crop production, providing a much needed increase in supplies of food for an ever-growing human population, but have also reduced insect-borne diseases. Thus DDT played a significant role in eradicating malaria from many countries, including Bangladesh.

The continued use of pesticides is now being challenged. These include growing public concern about the effects of the chemicals on human health, wildlife and environment; the increasing genetic resistance of insects to chemicals; and the disruption of naturally occurring biological control agents. A survey conducted a few years back by WHO reported that at least half a million people are affected annually due to insecticide poison in the developing countries, about 10,000 deaths occur as a result. Undoubtedly a sizeable portion of this figure falls to the share of Bangladesh. Efforts are being made by the Department of Agricultural Extension (Plant Protection Wing) to reduce chemical pesticide use in favour of integrated pest management (IPM), biological controls, and plant breeding for inherent pest resistance.

Pesticide regulation  The rules, ordinance, legislation, etc regarding the uses of pesticides in relation to crop protection and human welfare. It has now been decided that all pesticides when recommended for general use must be registered with the appropriate authority of the Government of Bangladesh. Pesticides are controlled through implementation of the Pesticide Ordinance 1971 and the Pesticide Rules 1985. Agricultural Pesticide Ordinance 1971 was promulgated in 1971 to regulate the import, manufacture, formulation, sale, distribution, and use of pesticides. The ordinance was amended in 1980 to accommodate legislative requirements, including the provision of licensing and repacking of pesticides. The law was further amended in 1983. At present, 94 pesticides with 299 trade names have been registered for use in agriculture and 75 brands for use in public health.

Pesticide Ordinance 1971 Under the Ordinance, a Pesticide Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC) has been formed. In addition, a Pesticide Technical Advisory Sub-Committee has been established. The Ordinance has the following provisions: (i) registration and licensing of the import, formulation, repacking, sale, distribution, and use of pesticides; (ii) establishment of a Pesticide Technical Advisory Committee; (iii) establishment of a pesticide laboratory and appointment of government analysts and inspectors; (iv) renewal and cancellation of registration; (v) procedure of obtaining pesticide samples and reporting of analytical results; (vi) power of inspectors, offences and penalties; and (vii) power to make rules.

Pesticide Rules 1985 The rules provide for the following: (i) registration of pesticides, renewal, fees, cancellation of registration, and of the conditions to be fulfilled after registration; (ii) import of pesticides; (iii) issuance of licenses and corresponding fees for imports, formulation, stocking for wholesale, retail sales, repacking, commercial pest control operations, and advertisements; (iv) functions of the advisory committee, laboratory and analytical methods; (v) manner of packing and labelling; (vi) toxicity classification of pesticides; (vii) facilities required for manufacture, formulation, repacking and handling of pesticides; (viii) safety precautions; and (ix) relevant schedules and forms for various activities.

The Director, Plant Protection Wing, Department of Agriculture Extension, is the registration and lincensing authority, and is also the Director, Pesticide Laboratory. After registration is granted, before marketing, a draft label is to be submitted for approval.

Procedures for the import of pesticides  The import of pesticide is controlled by the Department of Customs. However, the Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, GOB, on the recommendation of the Director, Plant Protection Wing, DAE has to give permission. The importer also has to give a legal undertaking that the product is for agriculture use only. With formulated pesticides, no permission is required from the Ministry of Agriculture, but customs officials will check registration certificates to ensure that pesticides are registered.

Strengthening pesticide regulation  The Plant Protection Wing of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) conducts regular training courses to upgrade the technical capabilities of its staff so that they can properly implement the provisions of the Pesticide Ordinance and Rules. Pesticide Association of Bangladesh, (PAB) in collaboration with Plant Protection Wing of DAE, has recently started organising courses for select pesticide dealers and farmers on safe and judicial use of pesticides.  [SM Humayun Kabir]

Appropriate technology and technology transfer  Technology refers to the combination of knowledge, inputs and management practices that are used together with productive resources to gain a desired output. It may be thought as the way knowledge, inputs and services are composed and combined to enable a certain system to function and survive. However, ‘appropriate technology’ means ‘a technical change or technology which meets a specific need in a specific situation’. The key features of the technologies are (i) newness; (ii) technical appropriateness; (iii) experimental proved; (iv) adaptability; (v) economic profitability; (vi) environmentally friendliness; (vii) sustainability; (viii) relative advantage; (ix) compatibility; (x) access and availability; and (xi) social and cultural acceptability.

As climate, soil, water availability and topography vary widely throughout the world as well as within a country, one technology considered to be appropriate in one location may not be appropriate in other locations. Again, some technologies may be appropriate in more than one agroecological zones. These technologies may be crop varieties, farm machinery, pest management, etc. But certain crops, fertiliser doses, water requirement, etc may be zone specific as different agroecological zones have different soils and climates. Certain areas tend toward a specialized agriculture, whereas other areas engage in a more diversified agriculture.

In 1970s, the Government of Bangladesh gave top priority to appropriate agricultural technology and established a cell named ‘Appropriate Agricultural Technology Cell’ in bangladesh agricultural research council. At that time technology was thought to be more related to engineering technology. Later this concept was widened to all the disciplines of agriculture including livestock and fisheries.

In Bangladesh different R and D institutions have developed numerous technologies in the fields of agriculture, forest, fisheries and livestock. Many of these technologies have already been adopted, some are in the process of being transferred to users. In the crop sector, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), bangladesh institute of nuclear agriculture (BINA), bangladesh jute research institute (BJRI), and Bangladesh Sugarcane Research Institute (BSRI) have released technology packages of many high yielding varieties of rice, wheat, maize, jute, cotton, and sugarcane. The salient features of the technologies, relevant instructions for cultivation, input applications, and management procedures are detailed out along with the packages.

In the livestock sector the important innovated technologies include: Urea-Molasses-Straw (UMS) as feed for fattening cattle; integrated chicken-fish farming; goat rearing model for landless and small farmers, and leaf protein concentrate mixture in laying hen feeding.

Culture of genetically improved catfish (hybrid) in mini cement cisterns, integrated rice-fish culture, fish culture in pen, and culture of pungus fish in ponds are some of the technologies that were successfully transferred to the growers. The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, plays a vital role in transferring agricultural technologies among farmers through its extensive network up to the union level. In addition, Bangladesh Rural Development Board (BRDB), Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC), and different NGOs, both national and international, are involved in disseminating agricultural technologies through their own mechanisms and strategies. The Directorate of Livestock Services (DLS), and the Department of Fisheries (DOF) are responsible for transferring technologies for the livestock and fisheries sectors respectively. Different teaching media, such as result demonstration, group discussion meeting, method demonstration, bulletins, leaflets, posters, and radio and television programmes play a significant role in transferring appropriate technologies among a potential adopters.

To increase the rate of adoption of technologies, Bangladesh government has formulated the New Agricultural Extension Policy (NAEP) in 1996 in which an attempt was made to understand the farm, farmers, and farm environment in a holistic manner. In this policy, guidelines for extending technology to women farmers are given. In the NAEP, extension-research linkage has been emphasized in order to augment technology transfer. To popularize and familiarize appropriate technology in agriculture to common people, every year DAE organises agricultural fairs at different upazilas and district headquarters.  [M Abul Kashem and Kshirode Chandra Roy]

See also  bangladesh agricultural development corporation.

Nuclear techniques in agriculture Use of isotope and radiation techniques in agricultural research to increase crop production. In Bangladesh the major areas of agricultural research in which the applications of nuclear techniques have proved to be successful are mutation breeding, soil-plant studies, insect pest management and fungicide research, and food irradiation. Institute of Food and Radiation Biology (IFRB) and Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) are using radiation and isotope techniques to boost up agricultural production and preservation in the country. BINA released six high yielding varieties of rice (Iratom 24, Iratom 38, Binasail, Binadhan 4, 5, and 6); 2 jute (Atomphat 38 and Binadeshipat 2); 4 mustard (Agrani, Safal, Binasarisha 3 and 4); 2 chickpea (Hyprosola and Binasola 2); 5 mungbean (Binamoong 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5); 1 blackgram (Binamash 1); and 3 tomato (Bahar, Binatomato 2 and 3). The developed varieties are not only high-yielding but also possess other good characters like early maturing, high protein, insect-pest resistance and high biomass producing. The institute has developed low cost, environment friendly biofertiliser for six legume crops like lentil, chickpea, groundnut, mungbean, cowpea, and soybean. Farmers are using this biofertiliser as a substitute of urea. BINA delineated plant nutrient status of Bangladesh soils, identified nutrient deficiency, developed management packages of fertilisers, integrated nutrient management, integrated pest and disease management and other agronomic practices for sustained crop production. BINA is also engaged in screening of breeding materials of various crops against disease and insect pests. IFRB is using the nuclear techniques in the process of preserving different post-harvest agricultural products and disinfesting stored food and food products including cereals, pulses, flour, spices, dried fishes, etc.  [M Idris Ali]

Agricultural agency

Agricultural agency The following agencies provide services to the country’s agricultural sector:

Ministry of Agriculture (MOA)  At the apex, the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for achieving agricultural production goals and targets adopted by the government, sponsoring projects and programmes towards that end, providing necessary funding support through annual development programmes (ADP) and the Foreign Exchange Budget, and implementation of the same through different agencies under its umbrella. The Ministry provides support to all its agencies in their dealings with the Planning Commission and the Ministry of Finance, and coordinates their efforts to achieve common goals adopted by the government. It monitors the implementation of physical programmes under various projects and the expenditure thereof. The ministry appoints key personnel to manage various institutions and agencies working under it and looks after their human resource development (HRD). The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible mainly for crop production. The other sub-sectors of agriculture, such as fisheries, livestock and forestry are taken care of by the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock and the Ministry of Environment and Forest.

Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE)  Motivates farmers to adopt measures to achieve higher production, trains them up in modern techniques at the field level, adopts production programmes for various crops, and implements through its fieldforce spread out at the Union/Block levels. The Department works through the following directorates: (i) Directorate of Agriculture Extension and Management (DAEM) which is responsible for general extension of all agricultural motivational efforts and management of the same throughout the country; (ii) Agriculture Directorate (Jute Production); which is responsible for extension and related activities in jute growing areas; (iii) Agriculture Directorate (Plant Protection) which initiates activities for motivations and training of farmers in the use of appropriate plant protection measures, choice of chemicals, and their use, utilizing methods such as Integrated Pest Management (IPM); and (iv) Central Extension Resource Development Institute (CERDI) which is responsible for development of resources to be used in extension messages for farmers. It achieves this goal, by using recommendations and advice of researchers/breeders and preparing messages suited to skills of the farmers in general. Major functions of the Department of Agricultural Extension include popularization of and motivation to use improved seeds, irrigation water, and chemical fertilisers among farmers, and propagating their uses, methods and doses of application. It sets up demonstration plots, conducts farmers’ rallies, and trains them up. It helps implementation of initiatives like the crop diversification programme (CDP) to promote nutritional balance in the diet of the people, and the horticulture development programme to encourage production of fruits, vegetables, etc.

Agriculture Information Service (AIS)  An informative and educative agency dedicated to dissemination of information to farmers in general. It uses the materials developed by the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) and the Central Extension Resource Development Institute (CERDI). It publishes pictorial magazines, newsletters, books, leaflets, etc and distributes educative and training materials. Moreover, it produces documentaries and screens them in rural areas and also conducts radio and television programmes on agricultural matters.

Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM)  It helps regulation of marketing of agricultural produces through dissemination of information on price, and quantity of various agricultural produces in important market centres, improvement of market conditions, and guaranteeing of fair prices to producers. It has its headquarters at Khamarbari (Farmgate), Dhaka. It publishes and broadcasts weekly bulletins on market prices in selected centres.

Cotton Development Board (CDB)  Set up to reduce the dependence of local spinning factories on imported raw cotton. The Board has already identified areas suitable for cotton cultivation. It distributes seed cotton and other inputs to growers in such areas and buys back the seed cotton at pre-declared prices. Its headquarters is located at Dhaka but it has zonal offices at cotton growing centres of the country.

Seed Certification Agency (SCA)  Responsible for quality control and certification of seeds produced in the agriculture sector for crops such as paddy, wheat, jute, seed, potato and sugarcane. To this end, it carries out tests on purity of the line, germination of the stock, and their moisture contents. For the same purpose, the SCA conducts field visits to the seed plots of the breeders and to multiplication agencies, including the contract growers, on a regular basis. It serves as the secretariat of the Natural Seed Board (NSB). The SCA is located at Joydebpur, Gazipur. It has set up a central testing laboratory at Gazipur and smaller ones in outlying field stations as well.

Central Extension Resources Development Institute (CERDI)  Founded at Joydebpur, Gazipur to develop agricultural extension service messages through training and coordination of extension activities.

Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC)  It was set up in 1961 to make agricultural inputs like fertilisers, seeds, irrigation water, etc available to farmers on commercial basis. For doing so, it procures chemical fertilisers, irrigation equipment, plant protection chemicals and equipment, and arranges for production and distribution of seeds. However, distribution of chemical fertilisers and irrigation equipment has since been privatized. At present, the Corporation runs seed multiplication farms, organises production of seeds by contract growers, and organises agro-service centres (ASCs) for boosting production of fruits and vegetables. It also runs some irrigation-based area development projects.

Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC)  It coordinates planning prioritization of fieldwork and approval of agricultural research programmes and their funding. It was set up in 1973 and has its headquarters at Dhaka. It helps integration of the activities of researchers in different fields and institutions of the Ministry of Agriculture and other agencies. It helps formulate national agricultural research plans and oversees their implementation, either by salaried scientists, or by those under contract research. It helps human resource development (HRD) through arranging higher studies of agricultural graduates. It maintains a computer centre, and the National Agricultural Library and Documentation Centre.

Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI)  Standing on the relics of a similar institution functioning in undivided India, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute is based in at Joydebpur, Gazipur. Headed by a Director General, the institute conducts research and imparts training on all food crops excepting rice. It has outreach stations at several agroecological zones of the country. It carries out research on wheat, potato, pulses, oilseeds, maize, cotton, fruit, root crops and vegetables. The institute experiments with various agricultural machines and implements to determine their appropriateness for field use.

Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI)  Established in 1970, BRRI carries out researches on all aspects of rice, including breeding of new varieties, improvement of yields, plant protection measures, fertiliser doses and cultivation practices. From its headquarters in Joydebpur, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute has set up outreach stations at different agroecological zones of the country. The institute has made a significant contribution towards the development and adoption of new high yielding varieties in of rice the country. It coordinates its efforts with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) at Los Banos in the Philippines.

Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI)  Established in 1951, the BJRI conducts research on variety improvement and cultural practices for increased yields of jute. It has been entrusted with the breeding of new varieties and effective yield increases. In doing so, it conducts experiments with cultural practices and application of fertilisers. The Jute seed programme is implemented by the BADC. Bangladesh Jute Research Institute carries out research on multifarious use of jute through its technical division.

Sugarcane Research Institute (SRI)  Founded at Ishurdi in the district of Pabna in 1973. It conducts researches on improvement of sugarcane varieties, the cultural practices involved in sugarcane production, and application of inputs and extension methodology to reach growers.

Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA)  Located at the premises of the Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) at Mymensingh and established in 1973, BINA breeds crop varieties through application of atomic radiation. It conducts research on rice, jute, mustard, groundnut, pulses, tomato, etc. The institute carries experiments on the use of appropriate doses of fertilisers on various crops and evaluates the outcome thereof. The Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture has already made a significant contribution to the development of new crop varieties.

Soil Resources Development Institute (SRDI)  Responsible for identification of soil characteristics, their classification, and property elements for suitability of crop production. It carries out soil surveys and tests throughout the country, publishes posters for agricultural scientists and farmers. It trains personnel engaged in the development of agriculture, including farmers. In addition to having soil testing laboratories in different places, it has mobile units to carry out soil to testing at the field level.

Agro-economic Research Unit (AERU)  Established in 1972, responsible for conducting macro and micro-economic research for national agricultural development planning and policies. In addition to carrying out regular mandated responsibilities, it is also utilized for quick surveys and monitoring of the outcome of a given agricultural policy of the government. Currently, this unit is inactive, which need to be reactivated for greater interest of agricultural development in the country.

Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU)  Founded in 1961, BAU offers graduate, post graduate, and PhD level courses under faculties of Veterinary Science, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Agricultural Economies and Rural Sociology, Agricultural Engineering and Technology, Fisheries, etc. It conducts fundamental and development research as well as offers refresher and short courses for agricultural scientists. Currently, there are several agricultural universities, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University (BSMRAU), Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University (SBAU), Sylhet Agricultural University (SAU), Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (CVASU) and some universities of sciences and technology to conduct research and training on agriculture.

Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation (BFDC)  Established in 1964 to help the development of the fish industry (harvesting, processing and marketing) in the public and private sectors, covering with marine and fresh water species. Its headquarters is in Dhaka.

Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation (BSFIC)  Established in 1976, it controls sugar mills, and develops sugar and food processing industries in the public sector.

Bangladesh Forest Industries Development Corporation (BFIDC)  Engaged in extraction of forest products from the forests of the country, establishment of timber based industries, rubber plantation, production, processing and marketing, best utilization of forest resources and processing of the extracted timber. The activities of the corporation are divided into two sectors, namely industrial sector, and agricultural sector. There are three rubber zones and sixteen gardens comprising 32635 acres of forest land. The corporation meets up to about 70 percent of total demand for raw rubber of the country.

Bangladesh Krishi Bank (BKB)  Founded in 1973 on the relics of the Agriculture Bank and Agricultural Development Finance Corporation, the BKB extends long and short-term credit for agriculture and allied operations. It also works as a commercial bank. In recent years, another specialized bank known as Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank has been providing agricultural credit to farmers.

Directorate of Livestock Services (DLS)  Founded in 1947 to help augment the production of cattle and poultry resources of the country through extension activities as well as through improvement of breed, health and nutritional care. Its head office is located at Khamarbari, Dhaka. Its field offices extends up to upazila level. Central cattle breeding station at Savar, Livestock Research Institute at Mahakhali, National Zoo at Mirpur and Central Disease Investigation Laboratory at Kazi Alauddin Road, Dhaka are important components of the Directorate.

Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute (BLRI)  A national institute for conducting research on livestock, which was crated in 1984 by an Ordinance promulgated by Hon’ble President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. Since its establishment, the institute has been carrying out adoptive research on filed problems relating to livestock and poultry development. Meanwhile, the institute has developed 40 technologies and 19 packages on livestock and poultry production. These technologies have been approved by the Board of Management of the institute and are being extended to the farmers by various government and non-government ogranizations. The institute has seven research divisions; five of then are engaged in technology development, one is engaged in socio-economic research and evaluation of generated technologies and the other is engaged in testing of technologies in the field. This institute has two regional stations; one is located at Nikhongchari, Bandarban and the other at Baghabari, Sirajganj. The headquarters of the institute is located at Savar, Dhaka.

Department of Fisheries (DoF)  Providing extension services for boosting fish and shrimp production, conservation of fisheries resources, quality control of fish and fish products, formulation of policy framework and socio-economic development of fisher-folk. Te main objective of this department is to support sustainable growth in fish and shrimp production for domestic consumption and export. To achieve- this objective, the department has been and imparting training to the farmers. Initially this was established as a directorate in 1908 and was upgradraded to department in 1983. The headquarters of the department of is located at Kakrail, Dhaka. Its local offices are extended up to district and upazila level. This department has developed a national Fisheries Strategy-2006 to implement the National Fisheries Policy-1998.

Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI)  Established in 1984 through promulgation of an Ordinance by President of Bangladesh. The headquarters of the institute is located at the Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) campus, Mymensingh. The institute has five research stations and five sub-stations in different regions of the country. The main objective of the institute is to generate various aquaculture and management technologies for better management of resources and increase fish production. So far, the institute has evolved 47 new technologies of which, 7 are widely disseminated. Remarkable research achievement has been obtained in case of breeding and culture of local endangered fish species, riverine cat fish, prawn and shrimp culture and hilsa fisheries management.

Department of Forest (DoF)  Engaged in conservation, management and extension activities in the forestry sub-sector. The headquarters of the department is located at Agargaon, Dhaka. The entire forest areas of the country are divided into few circles, which function under the control of the Chief Conservator of forest. The circles are divided into ranges and the ranges are divided into beats. This department plays an important role in the development of physical, socio-economic development, maintenances of environmental balance and sustainable land based production system. In order to meet the shortfall of forest products in the country, to ensure supply of raw materials to wood based industries, to conserve and develop environment and wildlife and to increase the recreational facilities for the people; the department has undertaken different development programmes. Besides, training programmes have been revamped at all levels to develop technological aspects of forestry. Moreover, different activities of the department in forest management, aforestation, conservation of wild animals, management of production areas, development of Safari Park etc. has directly contributed to biodiversity and environment development. The government has approved a twenty year (1995-2015) Forest Sector Master Plan for overall development of forestry sector of the country.

Forest Research Institute (FRI)  Founded in 1955, the FRI is located at Shola Shahar, Chittagong. It conducts researches on the development of forests and the forest wealth of the country. The main objectives of the institute is to generate new technologies to augment and preserve forest resources, improve environment, create employment opportunities and reduce poverty. Meanwhile, the institute has developed various seedlings nursery and established new garden system in coastal region, which has positive impact in creation of mangrove forest of coastal region.

Bangladesh National Herbarium (BNH)  A research organisation of botanical species. It is a national organisation to survey, collect and conservation of plant species. The main objectives of the national herbarium are to identify, collect and preserve all plant species including those associated with national tradition and culture. This organisation deals with taxonomic studies of plants, investigates medicinal and other economically important plants, threatened plant species and plays an important role in the conservation of biodiversity and environment. The headquarters of the organisation is located at Mirpur, Dhaka.  [Muhammad Abul Hashem and Jahangir Alam]

Agricultural extension and training

Agricultural extension  An applied science, consisting of contents derived from research, accumulated field experiences and relevant principles drawn from the behavioural sciences synthesized with useful technology. Extension involves the conscious use of communication of information to help people form sound opinions and make good decisions.

Agricultural extension activities in Bangladesh in crop, livestock, and fisheries sectors are organised, managed, and operated by the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Directorate of Livestock Services (DLS), and Department of Fisheries (DOF) respectively. Among them, the DAE is the largest organisation, and has extensive networks.

The institutional foci for the organisation and management of extension services at the DAE are Headquarters (national level), Zone (district level), Unit (upazila level), and Block (union level). At the national level, the DAE is headed by a Director General (DG) who is assisted by a Director, responsible for each of the 7 wings, viz, Food Crops Wing, Cash Crops Wing, Plant Protection Wing, Training Wing, Planning and Evaluation Wing, Administration and Personnel Wing, and Field Services Wing. The Field Services Wing of the DAE exercises the functions over field extension services. The Food Crops, Cash Crops, Training, and Plant Protection Wings provide essential support and expertise, largely through technical supervision of Subject Matter Specialists, and Subject Matter Officers at district and upazila levels. At present there are 9 operational regions in the country at the DAE, each managed by an Additional Director (ADAE). The function of the ADAE is to maintain liaison between education and research with extension, and ensure close contact between field level extension officers and workers and national level extension personnel. However, the Zone (district) is the most important focal point for managing DAE operations. A Zone is headed by a Deputy Director of Agricultural Extension supported by one Crop Production Specialist, one Plant Protection Specialist, one Horticulture Specialist, and one District Training Officer. Moreover, in the bigger districts there is one Senior Irrigation Engineer. The Unit is under an Upazila Agricultural Officer who is assisted by one Additional Agricultural Officer, one Agricultural Extension Officer, one Assistant Agricultural Extension officer, and one Junior Agricultural Extension Officer. At the Block (union) level a Block Supervisor provides extension services to farmers or groups of farmers. A Deputy Assistant Agricultural Officer (Block Supervisor) covers 600 to 1200 farm families (an average of about 900).

Training  It implies the purposeful arrangement of teaching for developing skills. It involves the process of improving knowledge for doing a specific job. It also involves informing, and educating people about the latest and appropriate technologies in their chosen field of profession. Agricultural training is usually of two kinds: (i) Pre-service, and (ii) In-service training.

The DAE of the Ministry of Agriculture has 12 Agricultural Training Institutes for providing pre-service training in agriculture with a view to preparing and producing field level extension agents (commonly known as Block Supervisors). In-service training is offered by the following training institutes: (i) Central Extension Resources Development Institute (CERDI), Joydebpur, Gazipur; (ii) Graduate Training Institute (GTI), Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh; (iii) bangladesh academy for rural development (BARD), Kotbari, Comilla; and (iv) Rural Development Academy (RDA), Bogra.

Some NGOs working in Bangladesh have their own training institutes, and provide short training to their own staff for increasing skills and efficiencies in the field of agriculture, rural sociology, fisheries, and related disciplines.  [M Abul Kashem]