Dhaka, Bangladesh
Help farmers buy farm tools

Help farmers buy farm tools

It augurs well that the government is going to launch a project worth Tk 415 crore to give subsidy to farmers for purchasing agricultural tools. We hail this project because, if implemented, it will diminish the cost of crops. The move comes in the face of soaring wages due to a shortage of farm labourers during the peak season of harvesting and transplanting paddy, causing a heavy loss in the yield of paddy that is cultivated on 71 percent of the total croplands, according to official data. Due to the crunch of farmworkers, growers have to spend a lot of money for hiring labourers in order to ensure the timely harvest of their grains. It is found in the rural areas during the harvesting and transplanting season that labour shortage goes up to 45 percent. This deficit is linked to the continuous shift of agricultural workforce to the non-farm sector. Jobs in agriculture dropped to 40.6 percent of total employment in 2016-17 from 47.3 percent in 2010, according to the Labour Force Survey by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. Due to high demand and short supply, daily farm wages go as high as Tk600 during peak harvesting seasons, up from about Tk 300 in lean seasons. The higher wages of labourers add to the high production cost. Despite phenomenal progress in agriculture production, costs are climbing owing to high labour wages and inefficiencing in various stages of cultivation. As a result, farmers fail to make any dividend from grain production. Agriculture is the mainstay of our economy. High cost of production will create an impact on our food autarky. The surging cost of labour has been making farmers helpless during the harvesting period for the last few years on the one hand, and farmers are gradually getting reluctant to grow paddy on the other. The rate of mechanization of agriculture is very slow indeed in our country. But the farmers are gradually getting used to agriculture machinery beneficial in terms of cost saving and timely cultivation. Currently, farmers prepare more than 90 percent of total croplands with power tillers or tractors. Paddy is being threshed by machine now. The progress in the use of machine in our farm sector is rather sluggish because of the high cost of machines which the farmers cannot afford. Under the new scheme, the government will bear 60 percent cost of the machinery and the programme will be taken in all upazilas under 64 districts. This is a kind of investment on the part of the government in the farm sector to make it more prosperous. We expect the programme will be materialized sooner than later.

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