From our childhood, we have read this in our textbooks. It may be unbelievable for those who live in the city. There are also reasons behind such thoughts because in urban areas they get fewer chances to visit farmlands and get less contact with nature. When we, the people from the city, only we see farmland during a bus or train trip, on both sides of our sights. Then the real mystery of what we have read is understood.
As a nation, there was a time when we had to pass the days in starving. The memory of the catastrophic famine of 1974 that led to the death of tens of thousands of people due to starvation and the withholding of food shipments by the US government still haunts the country. Successive governments had made self-sufficiency in food production a prime objective of agrarian policy. To overcome this difficult situation, farmers and agriculturists had to work very hard and merit.
Much effort had been expended to raise food production to avoid an unmanageable food shortage. More than three-quarters of the gross cropped area is now devoted to the cultivation of food grains (rice and wheat). In just over four decades the food grain production increased three and a half times. Day by day, the expansion and continual development of agricultural science and hard labour of our farmers in the country almost made that insufficient food supply only a history.
The average annual growth rate of food grains during the period 1972-73 to 2016-17 was a respectable 2.89%. Now, Bangladesh is self-sufficient in food production and it is possible due to strong motivation and devotion from the government to grass-root level farmers along with every stakeholder in the agriculture sector.
When we see the statistics, we learn that agriculture's contribution to our country's GDP is 14.75% and the total cropland is 15.43 million hectares, and 15.18 million families are engaged in agriculture. Earlier, season-based fruits, vegetables, and crops were available only in the specific seasons. For this, 1.5 crore agricultural households, everything is available to us throughout the year.
I have watched in a private TV channel that a farmer, from Jhalokathi, a district situated in southern Bangladesh has been cultivating vegetables and fruits in Sarjan method. In this method, farmers dig up soil from the land areas between two adjacent beds and keep it on the elevated bed. Farmers cultivate different leafy vegetables on the raised beds and also make bamboo roofs on the drain (in between two beds) and cultivate vinous vegetables on it. When water is available in the drains, they also grow different fast-growing fish in it.
There are different types of vegetables, coconut, lemon, papaw and different types of fruit plants in that farm. Wherever the eye goes, almost every part of the land is being cultivated. The farmer from Jhalokathi says, “If the cultivation procedure is carried out in a scientific and planned manner, one can earn a lot of money every month.”
In the case of livestock rearing, we see progressive impressions. Poultry and dairy industries have flourished throughout the country, especially the increase of beef fattening program, rearing of goats and sheep is highly promising.
Once, I went to see a layer farm where the farmer said the poultry industry is very promising and such small entrepreneurship are profitable. He did graduation at a public university and later, he was applying for jobs. Though he was disappointed because of not having a job, he did not lose his hope. A layer chicken farm was started on a single land by himself and now he is relatively well-off.
Once, I met a young man from Sylhet, a district situated in north-east Bangladesh. After graduating in Law, he tried to get involved in the law profession. But he could not continue as he wanted to do something else! Since his childhood, he has seen fishery farm of his family. He gave his best efforts leading to the story of winning the dream. The beginning of the journey was not easy. Shifting the law business to the fishery sector was undoubtedly a life-threatening decision! He got support from the family members who already were in the fishery. He also got many suggestions from friends from Fisheries officials. Achieving the success from the fishery farm, he is now working on a larger scale to expand his fishery farm.
I often do surprise to see the agricultural programs broadcasted in private channels and social media (Facebook, YouTube) where many people are turning their wheel of luck by getting involved in agriculture. Behind this scene, there are stories of different struggles and failures. Some of them have been successful in cultivating different crops, dairy farms, beef fattening farms, fish farming, and chicken farms. There is no way to deny the appreciation to our agriculturists here. By utilizing their knowledge and counsel, several unemployed youths have turned their backs on unemployment and keep the country's economy in a significant role.
In spite of our country being smaller than the population, the number of cultivable lands is declining. So, the agricultural scientists of Bangladesh are constantly trying to innovate new varieties of crops. However, in the upcoming days, homestead gardening or rooftop gardening may be sufficient to ensure the availability of food because such type of gardening has a promising potential to improve the food security of our country. There is a light of hope that rooftop gardening is getting wide popularity.
I dream that, by getting deeply involved in agriculture, this country will one day become a developed country. I dream that Bangladesh will be known as the paradise of agricultural research in the world. I am concluding quoting the title again, “Agriculture: the name of strength and prosperity for the human race.”
Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia.org