TBS Report: Experts, stakeholders for better Bangladesh-India cooperation in agriculture

Collaboration with Indian states can benefit farmers of both countries, increase regional trade and boost export earnings, said the experts


The experts and stakeholders in an online discussion have underscored the need for the Bangladesh government to learn from India about maintaining food security and ensuring the right price of agricultural produce.

They said, to overcome the existing challenges of posed by Covid-19, the West Bengal government bought about 20 percent of corn produced all over the state. But the Bangladesh government usually collects about only 6-7 percent of the total rice produced in the country.

So, the experts were critical of the lower purchase of agricultural produce by the government, linking it with the inappropriate price of agricultural products.

South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem) and Shillong-based think-tank Asian Confluence jointly organised the online discussion "Regional Cooperation in Trade and Development of Agriculture: Perspectives from Bangladesh and India" yesterday.

Conducted by Dr Selim Raihan, executive director of Sanem and professor of economics at the University of Dhaka, the webinar hosted an expert panel discussion where academicians, researchers, journalists, agriculture experts, development practitioners, businesspeople and students joined.

Describing the necessity of cooperation between India and Bangladesh, Asian Confluence Executive Director Sabyasachi Dutta said, "In the context of the ongoing pandemic, cooperation in agriculture has become all the more important. The Indian northeastern states can play a big part here."

Dr M Nahid Sattar, associate professor of agricultural economics at the Bangladesh Agricultural University, said, "The pandemic has affected income and in turn the consumption pattern of people, which has significantly cut the sale of agricultural products. Also, it has worsened the existing problems in the agricultural market structure."

To tackle these problems, Dr Nahid highlighted the need for commercial transformation of agriculture and development of market management structure in Bangladesh.

He identified trade and commerce, education, research, training and market management as the areas where Bangladesh and India could cooperate. "Agricultural experts of the two countries get to meet with each other only at the international conferences. Agricultural universities and research organisations of the two countries should collaborate at the organisational levels to address the common agricultural issues of the region."

Managing Director of Organic Bangladesh Limited Abdus Salam said the collaboration with Indian states could benefit farmers of both countries, increase regional trade and boost export earnings. 

ACI Logistics Limited's Team Leader of Business Strategy and Consumer Engagement Mahadi Faisal said, "The price of food items like fruits are rising as India stopped exporting through all of our land ports except Karimganj. Plus, the post-harvest loss of the agricultural product of both countries are very high and there is a need to conduct joint research on this."