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ADB: Bangladesh continues to post high economic growth in 2019-20

  • Published at 09:48 pm July 14th, 2019
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The ADB Country Director came up with farm statistics to show how Bangladesh’s rice production has increased by around 37% to 36 million metric tons during 2009-2018 period

Bangladesh will stand out by growing at record 8% in 2019 and 2020, making it the fastest growing economy in Asia-Pacific.

This is happening at a time when the global economic outlook remains challenging, and growth is expected to moderate across most of developing Asia at 5.7% in 2019 and 5.6% in 2020.

However, South Asia will buck this trend growing at 6.8% in 2019 and 6.9% in 2020.

Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Country Director in Bangladesh, Manmohan Parkash, stated these in a speech he delivered at a workshop on ‘Climate Smart Agricultural Practices’ held at a city hotel on Sunday under the joint aegis of ADB and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). 

“Today Bangladesh is seen as a model for growth even in this difficult global economic outlook. And in this growth story, agriculture is an important sector for Bangladesh. Bangladesh has gained significant success in agriculture, achieving third position in vegetable production, fourth position in rice production, and seventh position in mango production in the world. The country is now rice-sufficient,” said Manmohan Parkash.

The ADB Country Director came up with farm statistics to show how Bangladesh’s rice production has increased by around 37% to 36 million metric tons during 2009-2018 period.

He further added, “Wheat production rose by 57% to 12 million metric tons. Maize production grew by 646% to 39 million metric tons. Potato production increased by 148% to 103 million metric tons. Pulses production grew by 275% to 10 million metric tons. And vegetable production rose by 645% to 159 million metric tons.”

What is more remarkable is that Bangladesh achieved this despite natural disasters and calamities, he added.  

Agriculture Ministry Secretary Md. Nasiruzzaman, IRRI Representative for Bangladesh Humnath Bhandari, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) Director General Dr. Md Shahjahan Kabir, Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) Director General Mir Nurul Alam, and Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Lutful Hassan were present, among others.

ADB Country Director, however, mentioned about some of the challenges. He said, over 40% of the labor force or 62 million people are employed in agriculture but it accounts for 14% of GDP.

“Land available for agriculture is shrinking due to rapid urbanization. As personal incomes rise, per capita food consumption increases, food demand goes up, and so does the wastage. Then there is the mother of all challenges: impact of climate change. Bangladesh is highly vulnerable to climate change. Thus, there is a need for increasing productivity of the agriculture sector and effectively mitigating impacts of climate change.”

He said, “Autonomous robots, drones or UAVs, and sensors and the Internet of Things (IoT) are expected to become pillars of the smart farm. From driverless tractors, which will use big data such as real-time weather satellite information to automatically make the best use of ideal conditions, independent of human input, and regardless of the time of day to precision farming which combines geo-mapping and sensor data detailing soil quality, density, moisture and nutrient levels so that seeds have the best chance to sprout and grow and the overall crop have a greater harvest are the technologies coming up.”

Manmohan Parkash went on to add, existing precision seeders together with autonomous tractors and IoT-enabled systems that feed information back to the farmer can plant an entire field with only a single human monitoring the process over a video feed or digital control dashboard on a computer or tablet, while multiple machines roll across the field. Friends, this is the future of climate-smart agriculture.

Automatic water drying and irrigation could operate autonomously, relying on data from sensors deployed around the fields to perform irrigation as needed, he said.

In recent times, ADB has promoted agro-processing and high value crops through the Northwest Crop Diversification Project, Second Crop Diversification Project, and Agribusiness Development Project. Similarly, agriculture sector is the main beneficiary of ADB’s Participatory Small-scale Water Resources Planning and Management Project, which promoted community-based water management throughout Bangladesh.