Transforming agriculture: Bangladesh moving towards high-value crops
As part of its crop diversification and boosting agricultural output in the country, the government is taking region-based projects to promote the cultivation of new and high-value crops, and bring fallow, char and Haor lands under cultivation.
Officials said the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) Ministry has already taken a project titled 'Enhancing Crop Intensity in Greater Mymensingh Region Project' under the plan.
Under the project, the cultivation of new and high-value crops, and bringing fallow lands, Char and Haor areas under cultivation in 60 upazilas of six districts of the region will be promoted.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the project in July last. During its approval at the Ecnec meeting, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina highly appreciated the project.
On September 25, the Prime Minister even said the government has been giving the highest importance to food production as the famine may be seen in the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The government has been making efforts to produce food as much as possible, she added.
Following the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, the Prime Minister on many occasions urged people not to leave even an inch of land uncultivated to boost food production.
DAE Director General Dr Md Abdul Muyeed said they undertook the project as part of its plan to increase crop intensity (how many times a land is used for cultivating crops in a particular year) and diversification of crops for increasing food production.
"We're taking crop intensity projects for different regions. The nature of land differs from one region to another," he told UNB.
Under the Mymensingh project,the government has targets to increase the average crop intensity of this region to 210 percent through bringing the permanent and seasonal fallow lands under cultivation, increasing the cultivation area for diversified crops to some 13 lakh hectares.
It will be done through modernising the cropping pattern or sequence of crops cultivation in a land (including high-value crops and ones that require less irrigation), raising the productivity to 82 percent by using agricultural technology.
Alongside the food grains, the cultivation of the vegetable, fruits and spices will also be promoted in the six districts - Mymensingh, Tangail, Kishoreganj, Jamalpur, Netrakona and Sherpur of the greater Mymensingh region.
The DAE will implement the project at a cost of Tk 123.66 crore by June 2025.
Under the project, there is also a target to ensure women's empowerment through engaging at least 32 percent of women in various income-generating activities.
The major activities of the project include establishment of 22040 exhibitions of field-level crops (rice, wheat, maize, jute, pulse and onion), horticulture crops (fruit, vegetable, spices) and different agricultural technology.
The activities also include providing training to 18,690 farmers, 11,310 farmers from small ethnic groups, 1800 sub-assistant agriculture officers and 1500 high officers; arrangement of 120 agricultural fairs, awarding 1500 farmers, construction of 120 poly-net houses for safe and high-value vegetable, fruits and flower cultivation.
The project will play a significant role in the use of modern agricultural technology in the cultivation of the existing crops in the hilly lands, Char land, Haor and plain lands in the greater Mymensingh region, said officials at the DAE.
Besides, it will play a role in incorporating new crops, bringing fallow lands under cultivation, enhancing the production, offsetting the climate change-related risks by using the appropriate technology, cultivating high-value crops, the official s added. -UNB