Growth in agriculture and rural areas

Government makes economic policies and the same are expected to provide benefits to the greatest number of people in the country. A look at the settlement pattern of the population in Bangladesh provides a clear insight into why funds in greater quantities deserve to be channelled into the rural areas of the country. More than 90 per cent of the population still live in the rural areas and, therefore, the lot of the people of the country on the whole cannot be considered as improving till the rural population starts getting the benefits of various governmental policies in increasing number.
Agriculture is the main occupation of the rural population and agriculture’s contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) is some 25 per cent and this sector generates employment to about 75 per cent of the labour force. Thus, agriculture’s utmost development should be very sensible policy in the context of Bangladesh. On the one hand, agriculture’s diversification and increase in its productivity will substantially raise the total GDP and on the other impact favourably on the employment situation and the per capita income in rural areas where the greatest number of Bangladeshis have their existence.
Bangladesh is comparatively a very fortunate country in the sense that it is blessed with very good soil and favourable climatic conditions to be able to expand agricultural activities many times from the present level. It has increased cereal production manifold since the independence of the country and experts are of the opinion that further expansion of cereal production is easily possible not only to make the country sustainably self sufficient in foodgrains but to leave an ever growing surplus for exports specially rice of the finer varieties. In that case, the country can achieve greater import substitution and also increase notably its export earnings.
Bangladeshi agri-products enjoy a good demand in the UK, USA, Europe and the Middle East. But the quantity of export of agri-products to these destinations so far has been far below the potential. One of the main reasons for this situation is the lack of appropriate investment in developing agri-industries. Government lately appears to have become conscious of the factors that the country enjoys better comparative advantage in exporting much greater amounts of products derived from agriculture. It has declared agri-exports a thrust area and introduced various concessions to facilitate the emerging sector.
Some positive results have already been achieved from the policy though a great deal more remains to be done to fully pave the way for the take-off of this sector. Substantial investments have to be made for the creation of storage capacities, improving of transportation mediums, building of marketing networks and disseminating of knowledge for optimum and quality production of agricultural products having export prospects. It is thought at the expert level that Bangladesh should go for diversification and growth of high value crops to notably increase its earnings from agriculture. For example, there is enough scope in the country to grow for exports mushroom, broccoli, baby corn, French beans, gherkin, capsicum, orchids and other ornamental plants. All of these which have higher export value and ample export market can be grown at the level of the ordinary farmers. Thus, government’s policies must be coordinated to give a boost to agri-industries.