Creating opportunities for sustainable agriculture and green growth
Integrated Pest Management program should be intensified and expanded in order to safeguard crops from pest and combat environmental degradation due to pesticide uses. Organic farming along with use of crop residues, compost, and animal waste has been popularized but need more effort. Plant protection activities are largely in the private hands. However, the public sector programs are confined to qualitative and quantitative aspects of plant protection: pest's surveillance, monitoring and early warning against pest attacks, advisory service to farmers, traders and others dealing with pesticides and quality control of pesticides marketed by the private sector.
Considering the increasing demand for food production, it is an essential task to promote optimum land use and its conservation. Historically, land use planning has largely been an economic concern. Focus will be given on comprehensive land use planning through integration of economic, ecological, social and cultural values in production program in order to develop options so that informed choices can be made. In the seventh five year plan, emphasis will be broadening to include soil and water conservation, land development, drainage and flood control, and reclamation program. The integrated and dynamic nature of people's livelihood strategies and how these affect their decision making and capacity to use and manage the natural resource base will be an important consideration for land use planning.
In response to rising population, growing incomes, increasing demands and greater trade and exports, crop production output should be increased by growing more crops per year through expansion of water management practices, improve pest control and use of short duration variety. Greater stability and dependability in food production can be achieved through genetic improvement, crop management, post-harvest handling and through crop protection. Plants with superior characteristics should be developed so that they will be productive on nutrient poor soil. The concerned agencies must be strengthened in order to ensure production of quality seeds/quality planting material at all stages of its production- breeder, foundation and certified seed and encouraged farmer to produce quality seed and farmer to farmer seed exchange.
Seed production activities through biotechnology will be expanded. Emphasis will be given on creating facilities and infrastructure support for hybrid seed production, marketing and development. Farmers should be given training and technical assistance to extend improved methods of seed production, testing, storage and post-harvest management. Fertilizer is one of the critical inputs required for increasing crop production. The expansion of modern agricultural practices together with intensified cultivation has led to an increasing demand for fertilizers. It is, therefore, necessary to ensure timely supply of fertilizers to meet the increasing demand.
Imbalanced use of chemical fertilizers is causing land degradation and excessive mining of plant nutrients resulting in the decline of soil fertility on the one hand and reduction in the potential yield on the other. Emphasis/support will be given for the production of bio-fertilizers and facilitating their increased use. Rebalancing of fertilizer subsidy for encouraging balanced use of fertilizers has given some results. It is, therefore, important to adopt pragmatic measure to encourage farmers using balanced fertilizers to maintain soil fertility.
Water is a very essential input for increasing crop production and sustainable agriculture. Due to climate change and lifting ground water in an unplanned way, a significant portion of the country is not getting irrigation water during dry season. Therefore, a well planned irrigation management system is essential for gradual increase of cropping intensity as well as yield. Irrigation efficiency will be ascertained and modern water management technology will be promoted to enhance irrigation efficacy and water productivity through optimal use of available water resources.
The government has laid special emphasis on the increased use of surface water and reduced use of groundwater in irrigation to protect the ecological balance and reduce irrigation expenses. Thus, conjunctive use of surface and groundwater would be stressed. As part of the strategy creation of water reservoir/ rain water harvesting in rain fed/coastal/hilly areas will be encouraged, and small scale water resources systems should be developed along with monitoring the maintenance of the small scale water resources infrastructure at local levels by ensuring community participation and taking care of environmental and social issues.
In order to ensure water efficiency and for best utilization of water resources following strategies will be adopted: 1. Rain water harvesting for irrigation; 2. Use of surface water to minimize the use of ground water; 3. Irrigation at night; 4.Use of solar power for irrigation; 5. Construction of solar panel over canal or water body; 6. Discouraging the use of deep tube well for irrigation and 7. Discouraging the cultivation of high water demand crop in Barind Area.
Another challenge is to sustain and further develop the capacity of agriculture to effectively respond to market signals--to ensure that what is grown can be sold at remunerative prices, both to maximize rural income generating opportunities and optimize the use of limited natural resources. The small and marginal farmers need to be supported in producing diversified crop suitable for both markets and household consumption to improve their nutritional status.
They also need to be supported in selling their products at remunerative prices by developing linkages with domestic and international markets. The development vision for agriculture under the 7th Five Year Plan (2016-20) is to ensure food and nutritional security, enhancement of sustainable intensification and diversification of climate resilient agricultural production with increased commercialization, and livelihood improvement through technological innovations and use, strengthening of research and extension system, developing supply chain extension, value addition of agricultural products, and linking farming community with markets, both local and global.
The government should ensure sustained agricultural growth through more efficient and balanced utilization of land, water and other resources, and encourage more use of surface water for irrigation and reduction of pressure on ground water while expanding irrigation facilities through improving existing irrigation system and related infrastructures.
It is very necessary to promote science-led agriculture systems and encourage research and adoption of modern agricultural practices to face the challenges of drought, submergence and salinity. The basis of the structure should be established considering adaptation to climate change, proper use of genetically modified technology in agriculture, and promote adoption of modern agricultural practices in dry land, wetland, hills and coastal areas including use of environment friendly green technologies and climate-smart/resilient technologies.
The writer is student, Jahangirnagar University. He can be reached at: email@example.com