• Wednesday, Dec 01, 2021
  • Last Update : 08:37 pm

Investing in agriculture technology

  • Published at 12:16 am November 15th, 2021
Farming
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The relevant authorities should provide the full policy and administrative support

On Friday, Bangladesh successfully field-tested the first-ever locally manufactured combine harvester. The machine, designed to efficiently harvest a variety of grain crops, cuts up to 70% of the costs that farmers would otherwise have to bear working manually.

This is, of course, extremely encouraging news and a significant advancement in agricultural machinery production. The combine that was just tested -- jointly designed and manufactured by Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), and Janata Engineering, a Bangladeshi company founded in Chuadanga -- will cost between Tk16 lakh and Tk20 lakh.

High costs of imported combines remain a big concern as farmers still have to carry a big burden for acquiring the necessary technology for harvesting crops. 

Under the government’s subsidy program, Bangladeshi farmers bought 2,300 farm implements in the last financial year, of which 1,762 were combine harvesters.

Even with subsidies, farmers still pay half of the price, with the other half being provided through the program. This is an unsustainable model, and puts too much pressure on our farmers.

Thus, what is now needed is full support from policymakers. Not only will it help farmers, but in the long run, can help the government save significant amounts of money. It would be only a logical step forward, as the government has a plan to help farmers procure as many as 50 thousand farm machines by 2025 under the current farm mechanization subsidy program.

If the government diverts only a third of its Tk3,000 crore-odd farm mechanization subsidy to finance the farm implement manufacturers, they will be able to procure capital machinery, build modern manufacturing units, and start commercially producing the combines, which will meet the local demand with the potential of exporting the surplus.

Therefore, the time to act is now, and the relevant authorities should provide the full policy and administrative support to make this happen.

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