New agricultural technology does not develop and nothing new comes in the policy unless there is an issue over food supply and food stock.
We do not yet know how long the Russia-Ukraine war will last. If it lasts for a year or more, the question then is: What will be the situation? The prolonged conflict will have numerous effects on the food market. And we are already facing some of them.
When food prices go up, people tend to look for alternatives – as it is now. Due to rising wheat prices, many people have switched to rice from roti for breakfast. The shift will cause a pressure on rice stock.
According to the Bangladesh Wheat and Maize Research Institute, it is trying to increase the production by 5 lakh tonnes. As it will not be possible in one season, let us give the institute time to increase the yield gradually.
The institute has targeted fallow lands in char regions and is working on some smart varieties. These are some good aspects of the crisis.
Besides, wheat production in India is good. As a neighbour, we will get some advantages in importing the grain.
The actual crisis is in fertiliser. This will cost us additional money. A prolonged war could compound both fertiliser costs and supply crisis. We need to work on fertiliser. We need to calculate how much fertiliser the agri-sub sectors require separately.
The farmers should be advised not to use more fertilisers than the required amount. There should be policy-level initiatives in fixing the fertiliser usages.
Prof MA Sattar Mandal, Emeritus Professor of Bangladesh Agricultural University, spoke to TBS Staff Correspondent Shawkat Ali