A rise of 5.0 per cent in disbursement of farm loan in the first half of the current fiscal year may not be a milestone achievement but it bodes well for the country's farmers. Undeniably, farmers -many of whom are uneducated and simple villagers -are the most neglected lot. The majority of those are not familiarised with the formalities and paper works needed for procurement of agricultural loan. A clear, broader picture of loan receivers needs to be kept handy to see if the backward segment of farmers is at all brought under such loan coverage. Most likely, the new breed of young, educated farmers is availing the opportunity in setting up modern cattle farms, developing poultry or duck farms or for introduction of innovative fish farms. This peer group is also engaged in arranging vegetable or flower farms and starting up nurseries or even fruit orchards.
Clearly, it is a positive trend that some enterprising youths are no longer looking for salaried jobs, they are giving an ample demonstration of their entrepreneurial abilities and instead of becoming employees have turned employers. The future of Bangladesh agriculture looks secure in their hands. They will hopefully be well equipped to take the challenges farming will be facing in the coming days on account of climate change. Their interest is diverse and motivation phenomenal. Thus they are, on the one hand, taking the country's agriculture ahead and, on the other, proving inspirational to other educated youths. Agriculture by all means stands to undergo an unprecedented transformation within decades and the traditional methods are most likely to prove inadequate for the purpose. It will assume the character of more of an industrial venture than a farming one. Already mechanisation of agriculture has become part of the endeavour. With every passing year, it will be more mechanised and technology-driven.
So, the 5.0 per cent rise in farm credit disbursement should not be taken at its face value; it is indicative of the trend-setter in the sector. That farmers are incurring losses from cultivation of rice and at the same time continued outrageous price hike of onion for months has juxtaposed the contrary pictures of farming. The overwhelming emphasis on paddy cultivation has come to a stage where some farmers on their own have already opted for diversification of farming. But the number of such enterprising farmers is still very small. There is a need for planning the entire gamut of cultivation. Instead of producing rice if some farmers can ensure double or treble the income from cultivation of fruits or spices depending on the soil quality, they should be encouraged to do so.
At this stage of the year, the loan disbursement still stands at 44.77 per cent of the total at Tk 241.24 billion. This means that the major portion is yet to be disbursed in the second half. True, agriculture's share in the country's gross domestic product is dwindling but without a vibrant agriculture sector, the nation will find itself in a soup. Along with the sector's development, there is a need for helping the laggards there to adopt modern technology. The agriculture extension department must play a more inclusive role in this respect. Last but not least, in this land of natural calamities well-devised crop insurance should be introduced. The sooner it is the better.
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