The rate of growth of agriculture and its share in GDP is decreasing gradually although Bangladesh is known as agriculture-based country, government statistics said.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), agriculture had a great contribution on GDP, in 1973-74 it was 48.3 per cent and in 2008-09, about 18.64 per cent and now it is about 13 per cent. However, now the biggest contributor of GDP is the garment sector, while the contribution of industry and services sector in GDP is 28.61 per cent and 52.76 per cent respectively.
But the most important thing is that most Bangladeshis earn their living from agriculture directly or indirectly. The agriculture and forestry, which includes three sectors (a) Crops and Horticulture (b) Animal Farming and (c) Forest and related services sector, contributed about 16.03 per cent of the total GDP in FY 2012-13 where about 50 to 60 per cent manpower is engaged.
"Though the direct contribution of agriculture sector has decreased slightly, its indirect contribution to the overall growth of GDP is significant. The growth of broad service sector, particularly the growth of wholesale and retail trade, hotel and restaurants, transport and communication sector, was strongly supported by the agriculture sector," Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury told The Daily Observer.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture a declining trend in the growth of agricultural sector has recently been noticed, though there was an increasing trend in agricultural growth from 1990 to 2010, since the FY2010-11 the rate of growth has been falling.
Agriculture includes farming crops, animals, fishery and foresting contributions. Farming corps includes paddy, wheat, jute, vegetables, sugarcane, pulses etc, animal farming includes dairy, poultry, fishery, sericulture.
The government promised to raise the production of rice and fish to meet the demand for animal protein as part of attaining food autarky. In order to meet this commitment, a number of projects and programmes have been undertaken to enhance protein supply through increased fish production---these include----Strengthening Community Based Aquaculture, Ensuring Access of Fishermen to the khas Jalmahals, Establishment of Beel Nursery, Release of Fish Fries in the open water, Extension of Gher, Cane and Cage Culture, Habitat Restoration through Re-excavation of Silted Rivers and Innovation of New Technologies through Research and Extension, the Agricultural Minister added.
"About 43.6 per cent of the total labour force of the country is engaged in agriculture sector, country earned about US$ 1,316 million by exporting agricultural products in 2012-13 which was 5.74 per cent of the total export earnings ($ 22,924 million). In addition to the exports of main agricultural commodities such as, raw jute, jute goods, tea, frozen foods, the government has taken steps to increase exports of non-traditional agricultural commodities.....all these belong to the agriculture sector so we will continue our support in this arena although the direct share of agriculture sector in GDP is decreasing," Matia Chowdhury said.
This declining trend in growth of agriculture sector can largely be attributed to gradual loss of cultivable land, lack of invention, adoption and dissemination of new technology, and lack of sufficient support for agricultural research and training in the country, according to the Bangladesh Economic Update.
If the current trend persists, the agricultural growth rate might reach as low as 2.09 per cent in the near future. However, the rate of growth in agriculture came down from 5.24 per cent in fiscal year (FY) 2009-2010 to 5.13 per cent, and then to 3.11 per cent and 2.17 per cent in FY2010-2011, FY2011-2012 and FY2012-2013 respectively, Ummayan Onneshan, a local research based organization found.
"This declining trend in growth of agriculture sector can largely be attributed to gradual loss of cultivable land, lack of invention, adoption and dissemination of new technology, and lack of sufficient support for agricultural research and training in the country," Additional Secretary Anwar Faruque of the Agriculture Ministry told The Daily Observer.
Agricultural sector is ensuring food security for the vast population of the country, therefore the government have been giving priorities to agricultural development with a view to ensuring food and nutritional security, poverty alleviation, and increased generation of employment to build a profitable, sustainable, and environment-friendly agricultural system, the Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury said.
Population Division of United Nation has estimated that the total population of Bangladesh will be 194.353 million in 2050, when the total rice demand will be 49.07 million tonnes which is 30 per cent higher than the total rice production in FY2013-14.
The decreasing trend of per capita agricultural land is also a challenge for us as it is came down to 0.056 hectare in 2011 from 0.17 hectare in 1961, according to BBS.
Statistics suggest that between the periods from 1961 to 2007, agriculture experienced a two-fold reduction in the availability of cultivable land. Production during this period increased due mainly to the use of input by the farmers at a higher rate on the same piece of land. For instance, one tonne of food was produced from 0.406 hectare of land in 1961, whereas same production was achieved from the land below 0.14 hectare in 2007, which made it clear that the cost of production has been increased significantly which also increased the uncertainty in the growers' mind about the fair prices of agricultural commodities, the additional secretary said.
"To address the issue the agricultural credit programme is being operated through the commercial and specialised banks in the country since 2008 and this credit programme has been made mandatory for all scheduled banks, both the private and the foreign banks," the minister said.
Some new policies have been formulated recently to ensure easy access of the farmers to agricultural credit including three years revolving crop loan and credit for share-croppers. All these efforts aim at increasing the pace of agricultural credit programme at the marginal level. Besides, commercial and agricultural banks are operating to finance the agricultural sector and also to disburse micro-credit for poverty alleviation to ensure support to the farmers thus they get the fair price of their products. Matia Chowdhury said.