Young Bangla of the Centre for Research and Information (CRI) recently hosted its policy forum Let's Talk on "Smart Agriculture and Innovation" at the Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) in Mymensingh.
This session of Let's Talk focused on different contemporary issues, especially the government initiatives to boost smart agriculture, the extension of smart agricultural technologies, smart technologies adoption, training for farmers, involvement of youth in agro-business and environment-friendly smart agro-technologies.
State Minister for Planning Shamsul Alam; Waseqa Ayesha Khan MP, chair of the parliamentary standing committee on the power, energy, and mineral resources ministry; Professor Lutful Hassan, vice-chancellor of BAU; and Umma Kulsum Popi, Joy Bangla Youth Award winner and co-founder of BD Assistant and Premium Fruits, joined the event panellists on 18 January.
The students and youths of Mymensingh had an interactive discussion and idea-sharing session at the programme.
State Minister for Planning Shamsul Alam said, "Our farmers are experts in their profession. As the country is moving forward to becoming 'Smart Bangladesh', we are creating agricultural personnel who would help the sector by inventing new technologies."
Addressing concerns about the performance of technologies, Shamsul said, "The difference in performances of technologies is natural as their piloting always performs better in a controlled environment [such as a lab] compared to a natural and uncontrolled environment [such as a field].''
"We can do more research and provide intensive training to the Department of Agricultural Extension officers and the farmers to reduce the difference in performance. Also, research centres and practical labs should be established in villages. And most importantly, students should be involved in direct farming activities that will increase communication with farmers and understanding of their needs."
"Revolution is an ongoing process. We are moving forward from a Green Revolution to a Smart Revolution. Smart Agriculture is an integral part of the ongoing Smart Revolution. We can already see the modernisation and innovations in farming in many ways, and only you, the students, can take it forward," he said.
Waseqa said, "Since we have to move towards innovations, we are also thinking about making existing technology more environmentally friendly. For example, the government is planning to replace diesel-powered irrigation machines with solar-based machines. And already this project is in the pilot phase in 22 districts."
"This project can bring new changes in fuel efficiency and the government is also planning to provide incentives and easy loans to farmers, especially women."
Lutful discussed the importance of planning and research to boost the agricultural sector.
He called on the students to emphasise understanding farmers' and consumers' needs while planning any initiative or project.