Fast-shrinking of farmlands threaten national food security

Unplanned use of agricultural lands for building homes, industries and urbanisation purposes are making a sharp shrinking of cropland and creating a massive threat to national food security. According to a news report published this daily, there has been a government plan for protecting arable lands since 2011, but it has not taken a final shape as yet. It is hard to believe that we are losing nearly 69,000 hectares of agricultural land a year due to increase in rural settlements, unplanned urbanisation and industrialisation. Agricultural experts said there is a need for working out an effective strategy to check the shrinking of arable land and thus maintain the momentum in increasing its food grain production. They are surprised that there is no strong monitoring of the government departments for protecting arable lands.
It is unusual that an agro-based country Bangladesh has no arable land protection law and its most valuable croplands are being devastated without hesitation. In this context, experts pointed out that the Arabian countries are digging artificial canals for pumping water to deserts for growing crops. Another Asian country Vietnam has constructed flyovers for vehicular movement from one city to another for protecting their arable lands. The experts expressed their frustrations over the government’s inaction towards the use of arable lands for different other purposes. They suggest that the non-government organisations operating in the countryside need to supplement the government efforts to protect and develop the agricultural sector, which accounts for 16 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
According to official statistics, the total land in the country is 3 crore, 57 lakh 63 thousand acres. Of this, the cultivable land totals 2 crore 11 lakh 57 thousand acres. Fast decline of arable land is worrisome. The authorities concerned should go for regular monitoring of arable land to present an accurate figure so that necessary steps can be taken to save such precious land. It is quite a gigantic task, but it should be done at regular intervals. Otherwise the long-term outlook will be bleak as unplanned growth of population is complicating the process of meeting the demand for food, basic health requirements and educational facilities – triggering unemployment and social unrest.