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Agriculture in Bangladesh

The agricultural sector in Bangladesh has been performing extremely well, despite its vulnerability to climate shocks. The rural economy has been a remarkable source of economic growth. This further proves the strong role of agriculture in Bangladesh poverty reduction. However, this notable transformation mostly remains underappreciated and unexplored.

Additional statistics about the agricultural sector of Bangladesh:

This growth trend has become less volatile. This is partially due to fewer natural disasters hitting the country since 2000, compared to the past decades. In addition, increased resilience in the sector through irrigation and other technology also played a role in that growth.

Role of Agriculture in Bangladesh Poverty Reduction

According to a 2017 study by BRAC’s research and evaluation division, a 1 percent rise in agricultural income has the potential to reduce poverty by 0.39 percent when keeping other factors constant. This is compared to the 0.11 percent reduction contributed by non-agricultural income.

Bangladesh is facing a shortage of labor in the agricultural sector. This is due to the growth in the industrial and service sectors in the economy over the years. Between 1971 and 2014, value added to GDP from the service sector increased from 34.2 percent to 56.1 percent. Comparatively, value added to GDP from the industrial sector was almost double, from 13.2 percent to 27.2 percent. The share of agriculture in GDP decreased from 62 percent to 16.3 percent from 1975 to 2014.

However, it should be noted that the agriculture of Bangladesh mainly consists of crops. This has not declined much with the share of crops, only decreasing from 73 to 68 (out of 100) from 1971-80 to 2011-14.

Most of the growth in the service sector stems from the marketing and processing of agricultural goods. This is primarily due to increased commercialization and diversification of the agricultural sector. As a result, an estimated 10 percent increase in agricultural income leads to a 6 percent rise in non-agricultural income. This reveals agriculture to be a catalyst in Bangladesh’s economic growth.

Factors such as extensive irrigation, developing technology using high-yielding rice varieties, efficient markets, mechanization, proper policy reforms, investment in agricultural research, human capital and necessary infrastructure have led to the growth of this sector.

Future Investments to Enhance the Role of Agriculture in Bangladesh Poverty Reduction

Developing new technology and reducing the yield gaps for non-rice crops are necessary for Bangladesh to diversify its crop yields. Active participation of the private sector in developing new technology is also important, to leave room for more innovation.

Investments in livestock, fishery and necessary infrastructure are needed so the country can shift toward high-value agriculture. According to Madhur Gautam, Team Leader for the study “Dynamics of Rural Growth in Bangladesh: Sustaining Poverty Reduction” by the World Bank:

“The market operates smoothly in Bangladesh. The country now needs upgraded market facilities, increased investments in roads to connect secondary cities, improved rural logistics and access to finance to move to the next level, with more modern and efficient supply chains.”

Another way that agriculture in Bangladesh can play a role in poverty reduction is by developing water reservoirs. This leads to increased surface water for irrigation. Reducing the use of groundwater and adopting water-saving technology is essential.

Comprehensive facilities for marketing, storage and information are also needed. This is because Bangladesh has the potential to earn more than 1.8 billion in 18 years from exports of fresh and processed food items.

Finally, given the right opportunities, women can make great contributions to the agricultural sector. Therefore, access to agricultural knowledge can help open a new window for women. Furthermore, this access has the potential to increase the productivity of this sector, enhancing the role of agriculture in Bangladesh poverty reduction.

Agriculture is an important engine of growth for the Bangladesh economy. This is why changes in some of the conventional agricultural practices are essential for this sector to contribute more to alleviating poverty in the country and improving the lives of its people.

– Farihah Tasneem
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Cote d'IvoireAlthough Cote d’Ivoire’s GDP growth rate remains among the highest in the world from 2015 to 2017, 46.4 percent of the population still lives below the poverty line. The West African country, also known as Ivory Coast, relies heavily on agriculture, as do most developing countries. As the African country continues to develop, there are three possible areas that could help reduce poverty in Cote d’Ivoire: economic diversification, improving the agricultural industry and eliminating government corruption.

Economic Diversification

The country is over-reliant in one industry with 68 percent of Cote d’Ivoire residents having occupations in the agriculture sector. Although the country has grown partly due to the agriculture industry, relying solely on one industry is risky. Price fluctuations of popular exports, such as cocoa and coffee beans, are a high risk for Ivorians. Developing the healthcare, education, transportation, technology, infrastructure and mining industries would create tens of thousands of jobs and reduce poverty in Cote d’Ivoire.

Education is one productive area that would drive economic change and help reduce poverty in Cote d’Ivoire. Only about 48 percent of the population is literate. Education is a basic human right and necessary to develop further; investing in it is the foundation of a strong economy. However, Cote d’Ivoire is focusing more on public education. In 2014, the government spent about 4 percent of GDP on education. In comparison, the U.S. spent 5 percent of GDP on education in the same year. Investing in education has a spillover effect, as those seeking degrees in engineering or in the sciences may build hospitals or work in the lacking Ivorian healthcare industry.

Agricultural Industry Improvement

About 70 percent of the world cocoa production comes from West Africa. The country grew considerably and diversified the agriculture industry by exporting products such as cocoa beans, palm oil, coffee, bananas, sweet potatoes, cotton, sugar and many other products. Due to more than 60 percent of Ivorians relying on crops to feed their families and earn an income, further development in the agriculture industry is a viable option to reduce poverty in Cote d’Ivoire.

Cote d’Ivoire is the world’s largest producer of cocoa beans. Small farmers make up most of the agriculture industry. As the country slowly transitions toward urbanization, especially in the capital and in the major port city Abidjan, investing in more advanced farming techniques could help increase production and lead to a higher income.

Eliminate Government Corruption

Reducing poverty in Cote d’Ivoire begins with government initiative and policy. A strong foundation in government policy, particularly in strengthening the economy and creating jobs, is one fundamental way to reduce poverty in Cote d’Ivoire. A corrupt or passive government will lead to slow or little progress toward eradicating poverty. Under the leadership of President Alassane Ouattara, the country plans to have universal, affordable and clean drinking water by 2030. This goal demonstrates that Ouattara, unlike his predecessor who started a civil war, believes in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Under President Ouattara, the Ivorian economy grew significantly. Cote d’Ivoire ranked 10th in the world in real GDP growth in 2017. In an effort to improve the economy after the civil war that stemmed from Ouattara’s election, the president increased investment in infrastructure and services. In 2008, the poverty rate was 48.9 percent. A decade later, it went down to 46.4 percent, a modest reduction, but still representing a large percentage of the population.

Reducing and ultimately eliminating poverty in Cote d’Ivoire is a long, and sometimes slow, process. It takes leadership with a moral vision to help its own people. Three solutions to the high poverty rate in Cote d’Ivoire are economic diversification, investment in the agriculture industry and strengthening government policy in order to create jobs that pay above the poverty level. Thanks to the strong growth in the Ivorian economy, poverty has already gradually reduced.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr