43 lakh hectares arable land left uncultivated

Some 43-lakhhectares of arable land remain uncultivated in the country despite the government’s priority programme to make best use of every inch of available cultivable land under agriculture production to ensure food security.

According to a report titled ‘Report on Agriculture and Rural Statistics 2018’ published by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the total amount of fallow land in the country is about 43 lakh 9331 hectares (one hectare in 247.11 decimal).

The government has announced giving highest priority to increase food production in order to ensure food security for all and hence eliminate hunger in Bangladesh. 

The country is very small in terms of its land where 17 crore peoplelive and so the population density is quite high. In such circumstance making available agricultural land for growing food production is definitely a challenge.

Earlier, on October 16 Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina while addressing a program related to agriculture had said, “You should not leave even an inch of land. Plant trees, fruits, and vegetables. Increase food production by planting whatever you can.”

The Prime Minister had also mentioned giving importance on increasing food production despite the coronavirus crisis. She said, “Since the outbreak of coronavirus, we have focused on increasing food production to ensure availability of food so that no one goes hungry.”

Moreover, the premier has instructed authorities concern to take measures for maximizing proper use of agricultural land.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, various international organizations are also predicting famine in some parts of the world. Experts feared the global food supply system could face a serious blow amid the crisis.

Agronomist Shafiqul Islam Bhuiyan, talking to Bangladesh Post, pointed out that awareness among these fallow landowners is vital.

He said, most of the owners of unused lands do not understand the importance of cultivating food on land that are left abandoned. If used, they construct building or similar structures instead of cultivating plants.

Another prime reason is that the owners are not interested in using lands for cultivation. People needed to be encouraged for cultivation from local authorities, he added.

Mohammad Nasiruzzaman, Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture, said, "Landowners can be requested to cultivate their land, they can be encouraged, they can be supported if needed. In this case, the landowner is solely responsible for their decision on the use of their land left unused. There is nothing to force them.”

“There are concerned officials at the upazila and even at union level for all kinds of cooperation from the government to bring every inch of land under cultivation,” he added.