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Rising cost of agro products

05 February 2023

Alaul Alam :
People living in these regions are the worst vulnerable and born to struggle for foods and nutrition. International welfare agencies have been working relentlessly to combat global food insecurity over the years and noticing some progress in this regard. However, economic woes triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war are reversing years of progress.
In most cases the countries which depend on importing foods from other countries are bearing the most brunt of inflation. Many poor and middle income countries are spending most share of their reserve to import foods for their people. The worst vulnerable are the people with fixed and small income as the price of every essential has risen to a worrying level.
The availability of food in the market does not guarantee that food security has been ensured. What will we do with the availability of food in the market when the commoners lose their purchasing ability due to abnormal price hike? Sources say that in 2021 around 2.3 billion people were moderately and severely food insecure. On top of that, around 3.1 billion people went out of healthy diet.
It was also estimated that nearly 670 million people would be facing hunger in 2030. Combating food insecurity has been a global concern. Countries are prioritizing agriculture to increase food production. But the rising cost of agriculture has been a constant challenge for the farmers in the world to cope with farming. Obviously, farmers are bearing a heavy brunt due to the rising cost of farming. However, every country should be responsible to protect and feed their communities. They should not only make food available but also affordable, no matter how much people earn and where they live.
In Bangladesh agriculture is one of the largest economic sectors where around sixty two percent people are directly or indirectly involved. This sector has much contribution to providing food, nutrition and livelihood security of the large population of the country. It works greatly to reduce rural poverty and foster sustainable economic development. However, farming is shrinking gradually in the country as we are losing a huge amount of cultivable land every year. Sources estimate that about 80,000 hectares of agricultural land are going out of crop production every year.
The main reasons of the loss of cultivable land are urbanization, human settlement, building of infrastructure, and river erosion. Though our farm land is shrinking gradually, our achievement from this sector is worth seeing. The use of modern technology and high yielding varieties have skyrocketed agriculture productivity. Similarly, demand for chemical fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, weedicides, etc. has also increased considerably.
This sector has created employment opportunity for thousands of people. Though these days we see that some educated youths are entering this sector, many people who got farming as an heir have declined their interest in farming. Due to the rising cost agriculture has been a risky profession. Again there are concerns of the farmers over getting fair price of agriculture production.
Our farmers face natural and manmade disasters round the year which affect their production significantly. Along with this, the high cost of farming has pushed farmers into huge difficulties. The price of all the farming inputs has increased worryingly in the last some years. The cost of fertilizers and pesticides has increased many times these days.
According to the World Bank, the rise in natural gas price has increased the price of fertilizers and other agricultural inputs. The price of diesel has increased many times causing negative effects on farming as the tiller machines and water pumps used in agriculture need fuel for their functioning.
Food security of a country can be challenging if farming cost goes beyond the normalcy. Things get frustrating for the case of landless farmers who find it even harder to be able to survive with the earnings by farming. Due to the heavy concerns over food security experts and policy makers are highly concentrating on growing good yield of Boro paddy.
The rising cost of agriculture not only disheartens farmers, but also affects food security of the country. Again we see that though production cost has increased much, in many cases farmers do not get fair price of their products. When the wage of the people of all professions has increased many times, our farmers are still getting conventional price paid for their produces.
As our farmers do not have Farmer's Association to bargain for fair prices of their produces, they find no alternative to sell their produces at low prices to mediators. It has been a usual phenomenon that our farmers grow bumper paddy but are hardly paid with reasonable prices. So, it is very urgent to open procurement centers at the union level to collect paddy directly from farmers.
Obviously, the rising cost of farming may cause agrarian crisis which is not only the crisis of the peasants but also the crisis of the entire population. Undeniably, to save farming and farmers budgetary allocation should be enhanced. In these days of crisis it is very imperative to provide the marginalized farmers low-interest bank loan and cash support so that they can contribute to enhancing food security for the country.

(The writer teaches at
Prime University).

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