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Seed, Fertilizer, and Innovation in Bangladesh

Industry and Policy Issues for the Future

International Food Policy Research Institute | September 2012

By W. M. H. Jaim and Shaheen Akter


Bangladesh has achieved remarkable success in food-grain production in the recent past which has made the country nearly self-sufficient in food grain in normal years. Seed, fertilizer, and irrigation technologies known as Green Revolution technologies have been playing major roles in the growth of agriculture production in Bangladesh. However, supply and markets of these modern inputs suffer from a lot of uncertainties. A lot of policy changes have taken place to address these uncertainties, but there is a lot more to be done to face future challenges of food security. In this context, in relation to Bangladesh, this piece of work mainly intends to investigate the current structure of the seed and agricultural input industry; the current structure and impact of the public agricultural research and extension systems; the scope for improving access to new technologies by resource-poor farmers; and the policy options to improve the ability of small-scale, resource-poor farmers to access, and benefit from, new technologies. The study is based mainly on secondary data and published reports as well as focus group discussions with farmers, input dealers, and traders.

The review of input policy changes showed that prior to opening up the economy in the 1980s through the liberalization of the input markets, the Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) alone handled the procurement and distribution of inputs such as seed, fertilizer, and irrigation equipment. However, subsidy-based policies were debated on the grounds of price distortion, inefficient use of inputs, and social barriers to access by poor, small, and marginal farmers. Liberalized policies were thus prescribed by the international financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund without any provision for small and marginal farmers. The expectation was that the prescription would correct the above mentioned imperfections as well as lower input prices for farmers due to cheaper imports, which would translate into a reduction in the cost of production. This expectation did not materialize and the previous problems were compounded by the liberalization of the agricultural input market.

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Read More: Agriculture, Development, Finance, Food, Globalization, Trade, Economy, Environment, Bangladesh, Asia

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