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         Agriculture of Bangladesh

 

BANGLADESH with some 68,000 villages is primarily an agricultural country.Despite recurring floods and other natural calamities, the strongest features of its agriculture are the fertile soil and an abundance of water and sunshine, It ranks third among the major rice-producing countries of the world The varieties of rice grown range from the coarsest to the finest. Bangladesh is the world's largest producer of jute, known as the golden fibre. It almost monopolises production of the finer varieties. The main jute cultivation areas are the valleys of the Brahmaputra and the Meghna. Largest acreage lies in the districts of Mymensingh, Tangail, Dacca, Faridpur, Comilla, Rangpur , Pabna, Jessore and Bogra. About 5 m farmer families cultivatejute and 130,000 people are engaged in the jute industry.

 

Tea is grown abundantly along the lower slopes of the hills in Sylliet and Chittagong districts. There are 151 tea gardens in the country producing about 82m pounds of tea a year. Itís subtropical climate with heat and moisture and well-drained light son are ideal for tea plantation.

 

Tobacco is another of its cash crops. The country is now self -sufficient in the supply of Virginia tobacco for its cigarette factories. The northern areas produce a special variety of tobacco which is very good for cigars.

 

A large quantity of pulses, sugarcane, various seasonal fruits and vegetables are also grown in the country. The economy of Bangladesh is predominantly agro-based Agriculture alone provides 57 percent of the national income, giving employment and sustenance to about 85 percent of the population. Real development of the country therefore presupposes

development of its agriculture. Being conscious of this situation, the government has given highest priority to this sector as a national development strategy.

 

An amount of Tk 1,635m was earmarked for the sector under the Annual Development Programme (ADP) of 1976- 77. This was raised to Tk 1,681.5m

for 1977- 78. An allocation ofTk4,250m for the sector has been made under the Two-Year Plan (197S-80) envisaging an annual growth rate of 4.1 percent.

 

The agriculture sector is designed to maximise production especially to achieve self-sufficiency in food For this all arrangements are being made for increased and timely supply of credits and essential inputs such as fertilizers, irrigation water, pesticides and high - yielding varieties of seeds. Credit facilities are being constantly expanded and made easier to ensure productive ventures. In addition to the credit facilities offered by the agricultural and coopemtive banks and rural development bodies, a sepemte credit fund of Tk 1,OOOm was floated in 1977 to cater to the needs of small farmers. A small loans scheme has also been launched for all commercial banks in the country to disburse upto 2 percent of their total demand and time deposits to cottage industries, retail trade and rural electrification and to persons engaged in self-employed non-farm occupations. A crop insurance scheme was introduced in July 1977 as a pilot project to protect farmers against crop losses from natural disaster, plant diseases and pest attacks. The actual disbursement of agricultural credit rose from Tk 342m in 1973- 74 to Tk 886m iri 1976- 77.

Production, import and distribution of agricultural inputs have been expedited and steps have been taken to ensure their proper utilisation. During 1976 and 1977, over 8,000 tons of seeds of paddy, wheat potato and mustard and 11,131 Ibs of vegetable seeds were distributed Distribution of fertilizers went up from 280,000 tons in 1974-75 to about 600,000 tons in 1977- 78. Fertilizer prices are heavily subsidized

During 1975-76, an area of 236,000 acres was covered by flood protection and drainage facilities while 350,000 acres came under irrigation facilities. During 1976- 77, a total of 585,386 acres was fully covered by flood protection and drainage facilities while irrigation facilities were extended to another 35,595 acres. In 1977 the total area protected from flood and drainage congestion stood at 4.1m acres.

During 1976- 77, 167 miles of embankment 86 miles of irrigation canal, 136 miles of drainage canal, 144 hydraulic structures, 44 drainage sluices, 92 flushing gates, 219 bridges; 44 closures and 38 .surface sluices were constructed under flood control and irrigation schemes. The Food for Work programme was intensified to construct additional 1,424 miles of embankment and 1,073 miles of canal. production of most of the major crops has been on fue increase as shown in the table below.

Food crops Jute

( million tons) ( million bales )

     1974-75     12.3        3.48

     1975-76     12.7        3.94

     1976- 77    12.8        4.81

     1977- 78    13.1        5.43

 The research activities of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) have been greatly strengthened It has already developed high-yielding, disease- resistant and quality rice varieties which are being grown extensively in the country.