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One-fourth of country's farmer families landless

  • Published at 11:32 pm October 27th, 2019
Thakurgaon-farmers-happy-with-jute
Farmer processing jute in a water body in Thakurgaon Dhaka Tribune

Preliminary Agriculture Census 2019 launched

One-fourth of the country's farmer families are still landless, reveals the preliminary report of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) on Agriculture Census 2019.  

As per the report, some 40 lakh, out of 1.65 crore, farmer families are landless while some 91 lakh agricultural labourers and around 67.63 lakh households are involved in cultivating other's land, either on lease as tenant farmers or as sharecroppers.

However, the number of rural landless households dropped significantly in the last decade as 9.33 lakh new families became land owners during the period, it says, adding that the percentage of rural landless households is now 7.84%, down from 12.84% in 2008.

The BBS released the report on Sunday at its Agargaon office in the capital.

Improvement in economic status and land inheritance and distribution within families were two major reasons behind the drop in landless people in the country, said senior BBS officials at the program.

The Agriculture Census also finds 23.23 lakh rural households now own no arable land while in the previous census the number was 32.60 lakh.

Jafor Ahmed Khan, project director, Agriculture Census Project, said at the report launching program that a farm household owning and cultivating at least 0.5 acres of arable lands was taken for a land owner.

"The increase in number of households owning land was mainly due to inheritance of land and economic improvement,” he said.

The census found a total of 3.55 crore households (59 lakh in urban area and 2.96 crore in rural area). Of them, farm households are 1.65 crore, including 6.17 lakh in urban and 1.59 crore in rural areas.

In 2008, the number of households was 2.86 crore, out of which, 1.47 crore were farm households, including 3.30 lakh in urban and 1.44 lakh in rural areas. 

In percentage, the number of farm households out of the total households came down to 53.82% in 2019 from 56.74% in 2008.

The census, however, did not mention any quantity of arable land, or fallow lands in the country.

Asked in this connection, Jafor told Dhaka Tribune that calculating total arable land was not within the purview of the primary report on the agriculture census and added that it would be in the final report.

Speaking at the program as chief guest, Planning Minister MA Mannan said the BBS should initiate a comprehensive planning for conducting a census and work hard to collect authentic data to reflect the real situation of the country and its population.

"Try to remove discrepancies in future census. There is a room for continuous improvement and you must do it as BBS data is important to materialize the government's vision in economic development," he said.

The planning minister's remarks came following several observations made by secretaries of fisheries and livestock and ministry of agriculture over shortcomings in the census report.

Md Raisul Alam Mondal, secretary, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, said the report lacked data on production of eggs, milk and fish in fresh and saline water.

"It can also give us information about production of Hilsa and shrimp," he said.  

Md Nasiruzzaman, secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, said there were a lot of differences between the preliminary report of the agriculture census and the ministry of agriculture data. 

He said the country was exporting shrimp to 28 countries across the world but information about its annual production and prospect was still lacking.

He said new agriculture produces including sunflower and soya bean were getting popular in the country while rooftop gardening and floating vegetable cultivation in water bodies were expanding day by day.

"We have not seen these information in the census. We all expect these information from the BBS for future planning," he said. 

Mohammad Tajul Islam, director general (Additional Secretary), BBS, chaired the occasion.

The report says the number of cows in the country is 2.84 crore, chickens 18.92 crore, ducks 6.75 crore, buffalo 7.18 lakh, goats 1.92 crore and sheep 8.92 lakh.

It also finds some 16 lakh households to have land for fish cultivation including 9.95 lakh involved in fisheries projects.

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