Agricultural Policy in Bangladesh
Likewise other developing countries, 80% people of Bangladesh highly depend on agriculture and 62% of total people as workforce are engaged in agriculture. There is a plethora of policy/ strategy documents relevant to broad agriculture and rural development in Bangladesh. These can be classified in three sub-categories- crops, non-crops and cross cutting policies. As one would expect, about a half of the policy documents deal with crop sub-sector at large, although the contents of these documents deal mainly with cereal crops, especially rice. Non-crop sub-sector, covering fishery, livestock and forestry, appear less prominently both in terms of coverage and focus. The crosscutting policies include those related to land, water, food and rural development.
What does Agricultural Policy Mean?
Generally, agriculture policy is to utilize the equipments for its development. Basically, for the improvement of the cultivators, some strategies are to be supported to grow more crops is called the agricultural policy. In this context, C.R Strong’s definition is more adaptive as “agricultural policy refers to the long term process of principles where by the peasants come to utilize the agricultural resources.” In fact, it is the policy taken by the government for the peasants to be equipped with sophisticated tools used in agricultural works for the greater development of agriculture sector of the country.
National Agriculture Policy (NAP)
Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), which is responsible for the crop sub sector, prepared this policy statement in 1999. This is the first comprehensive document prepared by Ministry since the country’s independence in 1971.
NAP has an overall objective, 18 subsidiary objectives and 18 program areas. The overall objective is: “to make the nation self-sufficient in food through increasing production of all crops, including cereals, and ensure a dependable food security system for all.”
The 18 specific objectives are also articulated in general terms and thus give general guidelines or directions about how the crop sector is to evolve to achieve the overall objective of food self-sufficiency and food security.
NAP also identifies 18 program areas where actions or policies might be undertaken for achieving these goals: crop production, seeds, fertilizer, minor irrigation, pest management, agricultural mechanization, agricultural research, agricultural marketing, land use, agricultural education and training, agricultural credit, government support for production and contingency plan, food-based nutrition, environmental protection, women in agriculture, coordination among government agencies, NGOs and the private sector and reliable database.
The list of program areas shows that NAP underlines all input and support sectors involved with crop production and identifies issues that need to be addressed to improve their efficiency. NAP emphasizes that the goal of food self-sufficiency and dependable food security can be achieved only through efficient delivery of inputs and support services. For example, increased production of all crops needs timely supply of quality seeds in adequate quantity. Currently, BADC, NGOs and the private sector involved with seed production/ procurement and distribution can supply only 5-6% of total national requirement. The APB suggests that crop production can be increased by 15-20% only by ensuring timely supply of adequate quality seeds. Thus, for fulfilling this objective, all constraints hindering development of seed sector must be removed and new measures to be undertaken for its expansion. It is thus important to note that ultimate objective of all policies is to improve the efficiency of relevant institutions/agencies.
New Agricultural Extension Policy:
The MoA prepared the new agricultural extension policy (NAEP) in 1996 in accordance with the agricultural policies and priorities set out in the fifteen-year perspective plan, 1995-2010. These policies and priorities include (i) attainment of self-sufficiency in food grain and increase production of other nutritional crops, (ii) ensuing sustainable agricultural growth through more efficient and balanced uses of land, water and other resources, (iii) increasing foreign exchange earnings through agricultural exports, (iv) 12 introducing high value cash crops, (v) improving the quality and availability of seeds, (vi) reducing environmental degradation, (vii) increasing fish, livestock and forestry production and (viii) conserving and developing forest resources. The main goal of NAEP is to encourage the various partners and agencies within the national agricultural extension system to provide efficient and effective services which complement and reinforce each other in an effort to increase the efficiency and productivity of agriculture in Bangladesh. The NAEP lists 11 policy measures, called components. These components include extension support to all categories of farmers, efficient extension services, decentralization, demand-led extension, working with groups of all kinds, strengthened extension-research linkage, training of extension personnel, appropriate extension methodology, integrated extension activities, coordinated extension activities, and integrated environmental support.
Besides these, the overall policy of NWEP is as follows-
a. To ensure a profitable and sustainable production system and raise the purchasing power by increasing real income of the farmers
b. To preserve and develop land productivity
c. To reduce excessive dependence on any single crop to minimize the risk
d. To increase production and supply more nutritious food crops and thereby ensuring food security in improving nutritional condition
e. To preserve existing bio-diversity of different crops
f. To take up programs for the industrialization and extension of bio-deversity
g. To take necessary steps to ensure environmental protection as well as friendly sustainable agriculture
h. To take appropriate measure to develop irrigation system
i. Establishing agriculture as a diversified and sustainable income generating sector
j. Taking effective steps to ensure input supplies to the farmers
k. Developing marketing system to eradicate the crisis of agricultural commodities
l. Providing agriculture credit to the farmers in time
m. To produce and supply of agricultural commodities as required by industrial sectors
 A SYNTHESIS OF AGRICULTURAL POLICIES IN BANGLADESH, AGRICULTURE SECTOR REVIEW, MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE, GOVERNMENT OF BANGLADESH, DHAKA, JULY 2006, page.11
 Ibid, page.11
 Ibid, page. 11-12
 Ibid, page.11-12
 Class lecture delivered by Prof. Dr. Kamal Ahmed while he was in the class of our Mphil program.