Investing in tech, education key to raising farm output

"For food security, we need more productivity", Agriculture Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque said.


Experts think that it is important to train farmers to adopt technologies and learn about advanced technology-based agricultural management to improve farm production. Photo: Star/file

April 13, 2023

DHAKA – Investing in modern technologies and education is crucial to increasing productivity, sustainability and profitability for Bangladeshi’s farmers and achieving the goal of smart agriculture, speakers said yesterday.

It is also important to train farmers to adopt technologies and advanced technology-based agricultural management, they said.

“For food security, we need more productivity,” said Agriculture Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque.

He said smart agriculture needs time and for this, Bangladesh will have to go for a mechanised cultivation system.

“The government is committed to providing all sorts of policy support,” he said, adding that the younger generation will lead the concept of smart agriculture.

The minister made the comments at seminar styled “Transforming Conventional Agriculture to Smart Agriculture: The Way Forward” at the Renaissance Hotel in the capital. The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) organised the event, according to a press release.

In Bangladesh, the agriculture sector’s contribution to GDP is 12 per cent and it accounts for almost 38 per cent of the employments in the country.

Razzaque called for a multipurpose cold storage system to mitigate wastages and stressed product variety, an efficient use of water and climate-resistant crops production.

Sameer Sattar, president of the DCCI, said the agro and food-processing industry accounts for 0.22 per cent of the gross domestic product and it faces a number of challenges such as limited value-addition skills, lack of diversification, quality assurance, and low awareness about sanitary and phytosanitary compliance issues.

“To keep pace with the fourth industrial revolution, we have to learn about nano-technology, bio-informatics, machines, Internet of Things and new agriculture technologies.”

Shamsul Arefin, secretary of the information and communication technology division, called upon the private sector to take smart agriculture to its next stage.

“In this regard, the government will give all possible support to the private sector.”

Domenico Scalpelli, country representative of the World Food Programme, said smart agriculture aims to improve productivity and the quality of products.

He underscored the importance of value-addition of agricultural products and urged the younger generation to engage more in the agriculture sector.

“Commercial agriculture in Bangladesh is gradually increasing,” he said.

MA Sattar Mandal, a former vice-chancellor of the Bangladesh Agricultural University, said easy access to bank loans, skills training and capacity building, rational value-added tax and import duty structures, smart mechanisation, and automation are essential for smart agriculture. He stressed increasing cold storage facilities for agri products.

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