Agricultural Productivity

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Agricultural Productivity Relationship between outputs and inputs in the production of agricultural commodities. It depends upon a large number of factors including the geographical features of a given territory, climatic conditions, water control, production technology, education and skill level of farmers, transportation and other infrastructure elements, extension and input supply systems, research and dissemination of its findings, and the like. The agriculture sector in Bangladesh accounts for about one-third of' the GDP and two-thirds of the labour force. The sector has not been able to achieve a satisfactory level of productivity mainly because of the age-old traditional farming system in a fragmented land ownership structure and the inability of the marginal, small, and even medium scale landowners to introduce modern technology for want of capital and managerial ability. Inadequate supply as well as high price of fertilisers, quality seeds, pesticides, and similar other inputs, as well as lack of proper irrigation facilities, and extension services, added with natural calamaitics like flood, drought, salinity, etc. also substantially affect agricultural productivity in the country.

Considering the topography, land use pattern, soil characteristics, climatic conditions, and crop diversification, the country has been divided into 30 Agroecological zones, having differences in agricultural productivity. One way of measuring agricultural productivity in Bangladesh is to first classify agricultural products into different groups and then analyze productivity of each of them. Agricultural products of Bangladesh may be classified as crops, fruits, livestock, fishery, forestry and products, and the crops as cereal, pulse, oilseed, fibre, narcotic, beverage, sugar, root and tuber, condiments and spices, and vegetable sub-groups.

rice is the most important cereal crop of the country and accounts for about 95 percent of all crops of the subgroup. Rice is cultivated in about 10.53 million ha, which is about 80 percent of the country's total cropped area. Between 1995-96 and 2005-06 the production of local' varieties had decreased by 21 percent, HYV and rice as a whole increased by 80 and 50 percent' respectively. But productivity in terms of growth of output as compared to increased use rate of inputs remained almost stagnant, largely because of depletion of soil fertility under increased cropping' intensity, and unbalanced use of fertilisers and other chemical nutrients. Productivity of' maize increased by 17 thousand percent (from 3,000 mt-522,000 mt) whereas, wheat had decreased by 46 percent and barley, Jowar, bajra, cheena and other cereals demonstrated a alarming declining trend in the above reference decade. Acreage and production of pulses had grown by about 47' and 62 percent respectively in the two decades between 1985-86 and 2005-06 but the productivity declined gradually due to non-availability of high input responsive technology, and of high yielding varieties, and poor extension services. Productivity of oilseed production' increased in the country by about 125' percent between 1985-86 and 2005-06, although the growth fell much short of the rate of growth of the demand for oil seed during the period.

Between 1995-96 and 2005-06 there has been a systematic decline in the rate of growth of acreage, production and productivity of the principal fibre crop jute. The acreage under cotton, its total production had decreased remarkably over the period. During the same reference period' the productivity of beverage crops, narcotic crops, root and tuber crops; and condiments and spices had increased' the production by 12, 21, 132 and 276 percent respectively, and that of' fruits and vegetable crops' increased' by 103 and 119' percent respectively, while that of sugarcane had declined by 23 percent.

Production of livestock and poultry (egg, meat and milk) had increased in absolute volume due to the fast development of poultry and dairy farms in 1985-2005. Annual production of fish had also increased substantially in this period. Increase in productivity of fish culture, livestock and poultry, although' not very significant, was achieved as a result of the positive response of the privat sector to government,' NGO's and donor's initiatives to develop organised farming to supplant and replace traditional practices.

Of all the different groups of agricultural products, forestry is the one that had shown a very slow increase in both absolute volume of production and productivity. Between 1985-86 and 2005-06 the forestland in the country had' increased from 2.26 million ha to 2.60 million ha, and timber production had' increased by' 30 percent,' increased is due to afforestation (social foresty, hill foresty and coastal foresty) and' proper care and management practices. The overall situation of agricultural productivity during the reference period was not very satisfactory, although the government had undertaken a large number of programmes on its own in addition to the donor's supported programmes to improve it. Such programmes include increased supply of improved seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, and irrigation facilities, research on farming practices and farm management, improved extension services and block demonstrations on system based target yields. There are however, many systemic and institutional weaknesses that keep the efficiency in delivery of these services at a low level. [Md. Hazrat Ali]