The agricultural sector of Bangladesh has proven phenomenal efficiency by way of crop manufacturing and yield progress, crop diversification, lowering subsectoral progress asymmetries, speedy rise in cropping depth and adoption of Excessive Yielding Varieties (HYVs) and so forth. Consequently, now we have achieved a proper to voice and rejoice quite a bit over these successes. However can we ever consider the extent to which agricultural progress has been capable of enhance the lot of the farmers, significantly the small ones which are often known as smallholders? Are we actually involved about smallholders of our nation? Do now we have adequate information on their livelihood? How do they finance their financial actions?
Smallholders discuss with these farmers who maintain small sizes of land. In Bangladesh, farm households proudly owning or working farm sizes of 5 decimals to 249 decimals are referred to as smallholders. This definition differs from nation to nation. Landholding per family is small however their contribution is greater than that of medium and huge farmers. Since we don’t have present information, now we have to rely on the report of Agriculture Census 2008 for an indicative state of affairs. Small farmers or smallholders occupy greater than half of the nation’s gross crop space, and of manufacturing quantity. Presumably, this example is more likely to persist even right this moment.
Agriculture census is the supply of complete information on agriculture, farming inhabitants and their actions. Such a statistical job is carried out at an interval of at the least 10 years, Henceforth, information must be assumed with some logical foundation to do any analytical and investigative work till a brand new census report is obtained. The most recent agriculture census that passed off in 2019 has been accomplished however the last report is but to be printed. Nonetheless, the preliminary report on the census is now out there.
The census goals at fulfilling some goals. One in every of such goals (set by the surveying authority) of any agricultural census is to offer information for formulating authorities insurance policies and programmes for the advantage of small and marginal farm households. However the agricultural census experiences are discovered to not incorporate information on some very important elements of smallholders similar to their income-mix, consumption, funding and value of farming, financing, property and liabilities based mostly on totally different farm sizes, financial actions undertaken, location, tenancy standing and so forth. Thus, it’s not potential to fulfill the aforesaid goal of the census as a result of information insufficiency. Family Earnings and Expenditure Surveys performed on common foundation can not act as an acceptable and various supply of analytical in addition to categorical information relating to smallholders’ livelihood.
As per the preliminary report of Agriculture Census 2019, the entire variety of farm households is 16.6 million (Desk-1). The proportion and the strata of small farm households are nonetheless unavailable. The findings of Agriculture Census 2008 reveal that smallholders account for 84.39 per cent of complete farm households. This proportion of smallholders could also be used to estimate the current variety of smallholder inhabitants. The estimate has been proven within the Desk 1. So we are able to say, Bangladesh has now round 14 million households recognized as smallholders. Farm sizes additionally range amongst a number of strata of smallholders. The 2008 census unveils that farmers with a land dimension of lower than 50 decimals have the very best ratio (33.15 per cent) whereas solely 19.28 per cent of small farm households possess a farm dimension of 150 to lower than 250 decimals.
A pattern survey carried out in 2014 (Supply: Desk 3.8 of creator’s doctoral thesis) demonstrates that smallholders represented 80.41 per cent of complete sampled farm households (rural space). Greater than 59 per cent of them have been discovered non-viable within the sense that they have been unable to revive farm funding and repay mortgage after assembly annual household expenditure out of revenue from farm and non-farm sources. HIES 2016-based Desk-2 portrays information additionally proving the monetary hardship suffered by nearly all of the smallholders. It’s noticed from the desk that month-to-month revenue degree of solely 7.56 per cent of smallholders is barely higher that month-to-month expenditure degree.
As regards the info in Desk-2, it could be identified that revenue accounting of farmers’ paddy is just not acceptable. The vast majority of our farmers are primarily paddy growers. Authorities-set rice worth is used to calculate farmers’ crop revenue. Few farmers get the government-set procurement worth which is greater than the precise market worth. Consequently, revenue of the a lot of the farmers is overestimated. Apart from this, earlier money owed and sudden outflows of fund will not be thought of.
Desk-3 exhibits a declining pattern within the variety of loanees within the class of small and marginal farmers. Entry to credit score (2019-20) could also be calculated at 16.82 per cent in opposition to 14 million of smallholders. The speed of entry in comparison with accounts opened (medium and huge farmers additionally included ) is 23.20 per cent. The vast majority of smallholders can not however resort to MFIs and cash lenders on the situations of upper price of fund and unreasonable reimbursement reschedule.
The paperwork of Bangladesh Financial institution’s Agricultural and Rural Credit score Coverage and Programme for a number of fiscal years state that yearly Bangladesh Financial institution disburses mandatory quantity of credit score to marginal and small farmers together with sharecroppers of the nation by way of totally different banks. Smallholders want credit score not just for farm and non-farm actions, but additionally for household upkeep. This necessity of funding is just not taken into consideration. Apart from, the web credit score move to the farmers could be very insignificant as recent disbursement is made after the borrowing farmers repay the earlier dues. Then the small farmers are pressured to satisfy their funding deficit from non-banking sources.
Area remark is that a lot of the smallholders require government-sponsored intensive care in lieu of generalised focus to fight the constrained circumstances. They have to be assisted, on case-by-case foundation, with a suggestion of pragmatic mixture of farm and non-farm actions and required dimension of credit score. A brand new financing strategy ought to be developed to match the wants of the smallholders’ viability. Insurance policies and programmes to enhance the standard of their livelihood must be based mostly on subject surveys on common foundation. Steps have to be taken to revise information designing in future census in addition to pattern surveys as we should know the smallholders intimately to make sure enough preparations for his or her upliftment.
Haradhan Sarker, PhD, is ex-Monetary Analyst, Sonali Financial institution and retired Professor of Administration.