Bangladesh's agriculture will be dominated increasingly by large-scale commercialised farming as corporate interests dispossess the peasantry, says a paper presented at a seminar organised by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) on Wednesday.
"It will continue to be a nation of small, petty commodity farmers, with some shifts from subsistence motivation towards increasing net marketable surplus," projects the paper presented by Geof Wood, emeritus professor of International Development, Department of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath.
Professor Geof finds that the farm is losing its pre-eminence to services and other activities, which are also increasingly shifting from public to private hands.
MA Sattar Mandal, professor emeritus of agricultural economics, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh, does not find any problem with the changing trajectory of agriculture as he says a lot of positive things have already taken place in fish and cattle farming going out of the traditional farming idea.
He asked whether the country should strive for food security or food autonomy or a fusion of the two.
"The hypotheses put forth by Professor Geof Wood need to be tested," he said.
Professor Hossain Zillur Rahman called for more research on rural economy as a lot of other things such as power relations in the rural areas have changed completely over the years.
"Now people's relationship with police stations at the upazila level plays an important role in the rural power structure," he observed.
"And not necessarily, people having lands have to stay in the villages. Many people who have lands in the villages live in the urban areas, especially in the capital," he added.
Other discussants in the programme attributed intergenerational change in interest to the change in rural farming situation.
Many people who have been in farming for generations no longer want their children to be in it; they want their children to shift to other professions.
Binayak Sen, director general, BIDS, who chaired the seminar, summed up saying the old farms are breaking down and getting fragmented under pressure of growing population.
"At the same time large farms are growing. If it will be something good or bad remains to be seen," he noted.
Planning Minister MA Mannan and Professor Mahbub Ullah, among others, also spoke at the programme.