Participation of women in agricultural education has been increasing day by day. At present, they are enrolled at different universities both home and aboard for their higher education in the field of agricultural science. After getting the degree, women are serving in a host of agricultural institutions including research institutions, Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), fisheries, livestock department of Bangladesh government, national and international institutions etc. The trends of female students getting admitted at agricultural universities are higher than ever. Bangladesh has managed to triple its rice production since its independence-- from 10 million Metric Ton (MT) in 1971 to over 32 million MT today. It is immensely positive that we have been able to augment the amount of irrigated land; at present 8.44 million hectares of the land, that are being irrigated, is more than 7 times than that of 1990 documented by Bangladesh Agriculture Statistics, 2013. Modern varieties of rice have been introduced on 75% of the total rice cropped area. Bangladesh is now the world's sixth largest producer of rice which accounts for 77% of agricultural land use according to irri.org.
Effort of women is one of the most important parts of this achievement. Among cereals, the supreme position is occupied by rice with about 80 percent of the total arable land is dedicated to rice cultivation. Thus, rice boasts of being the primary crop for Bangladesh's entire agricultural sector, and is also the staple item in Bangladeshi diets. Rice production in 2016 is expected to be in the range of 31.2 to 35.2 million MT, and it is likely to grow to 39 million MT by 2030. It is projected that Bangladesh will be able to meet the demand of its cereal grain from its own sources till 2020.
There are at least 1.6 billion women in the world and most of them live in rural areas. They depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Female farmers produce more than half of all the foods that are grown in the world, specifically, up to 80 percent in Africa and 60 percent in Asia. Research has shown that when women increase their incomes, and have got access to more resources, they invest their money in their children's nutrition, education and health care, creating a multiple effect on the socio-economic system that strengthens families and communities. At the early of this century, female students' entry to agricultural university was few in numbers in Bangladesh. With the lapse of time the scenario has changed. Currently, the ratio of male to female students stands at 50:50 at Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University (SAU). Their participations in the areas of theory and practical classes are remarkably appreciated. In the three faculties of SAU, Agriculture, Agribusiness Management, and Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine (ASVM), the number of female students is more, in some years, than their male counterparts.
The boys are more in agricultural education than girls as other eight or ten countries in the world. Once, people would become horrified hearing that the girl would be agriculturist. But the era has gone past with the change in thinking. Social status of female agriculturist has also been diversified and dignified as researcher, and agricultural economist like engineers, doctors or others. In fact, much more physical and mental skills are required in agricultural education than others. Family can take the lead role in encouraging women in agricultural education. If family encourages girls to build up their career in agriculture, they would be interested in studying agriculture.The students shared their sagacity in this respects.
The writer is a student of Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University