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Neglecting marginal farmers would be counterproductive

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11th-Oct-2017       
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DESPITE the tremendous contributions to the country's agriculture by small farmers, the small and medium farmers have little access to the agricultural credit offered by commercial banks, governmental subsidiaries and agricultural extension services. The scenario has been highlighted in a household survey that revealed the neglect to the small and medium farm owners. The food providers get only half the attention from the agricultural extension services against the well-off farmers while Bangladesh Krishi Bank also disproportionately helps the rich farmers. The ongoing practice is wrong in every aspect and needs immediate change for ensuring food security amidst the visible climate change affect on agro-production and the subsequent food insecurity.

Quoting the study, a news media report said despite the backdrop and inappropriate action, per unit output from the small and marginal farmers is much higher than the per unit yield from the rich farmers. Over 76 percent of the country's farmers are small and marginal who either toil in their own small farms or in others' lands. On the other hand, less than a quarter of the farming community belongs to the category of medium and big farmers who own at least above 1.5 acres of land each.

We believe that providing adequate access to institutional credit and effective agricultural extension services to the small and marginal farmers is crucial for raising agri-income and enhancing farm output. The outreach of these services to small-holder farmers is very low in absolute terms and considerably less than the services provided to rich farmers. Besides, the loan disbursement procedure in the sector is highly graft-ridden that brought down the growth to 2.4 percent in the last five years comparing to 4.7 percent in the previous five years. And rice production growth dipped to just 0.7 percent in the past five years whereas, it was as high as 4.8 percent in the preceding five years. It so caused due to climate change effects - floods, untimely rain, drought, and cyclone, and corruption and mismanagement.

If Bangladesh fails to accelerate agro-production, the most hyped food security would be out of reach and the much talked slogan of ending poverty or providing nutrition to all would also be hampered.

For attaining food security, the agro-credit disbursement should be marginal farmers friendly and the mechanism should also be simple, convenient and graft-free. Any breach in the system should be handled according to law.

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