Bangladesh is third among the most agriculturally digitalised countries in South Asia but this feat has been achieved with the help of non-digital enabling environments such as swift access to markets and adequate electricity coverage.
Government initiatives for utilising information and communication technology (ICT) to deliver public services at the national level also made a significant contribution in pushing Bangladesh forward in the World Bank's Agriculture Digitalisation Index (ADI).
Bangladesh achieved an overall score of 53.2 out of 100 in the ADI, published on Tuesday in a book titled "What's Cooking: Digital Transformation of the Agrifood System." A higher score represents a stronger performance, and only Sri Lanka and India are ahead in this region.
The ADI evaluated 150 countries' digital transformation of Agrifood systems under three simple sub-indexes – Digital Agriculture Availability, Digital Affordability, and Non-digital Enabling Environment.
With a score of 72.4, Bangladesh scored the highest in Non-digital Enabling Environment Sub-index, which was based on four metrics – market access index, access to electricity, basic skills index, and online services index.
The World Bank used this sub-index to measure the level of development of non-digital enablers and governmental capacity to support digital innovation.
Bangladesh scored 99.7 in the Market Access Index, which was calculated based on the percentage of farmland within four hours of a settlement of at least 100,000 people. The other metrics used in the calculation are self-explanatory.
Bangladesh scored 46.3 in the Digital Affordability Sub-index, which measured the availability of mobile services and devices at price points that reflect the level of income across a national population.
With a score of just 41, Bangladesh achieved the lowest score in the Digital Agriculture Availability Sub-index – which estimated the share of farmland in a country with mobile coverage.
According to the World Bank calculations, Bangladesh's 99.4% of total farmland has 2G cell phone coverage, whereas 52.7% has 3G coverage. But when it comes to 4G, only 0.1% of the country's farmland is covered.
Switzerland topped the index globally with a score of 91.7, followed by the United Kingdom (91.2), Finland (90.9), Netherlands (90.9), and Ireland (90.7). On other hand, with a score of only 17.9, Chad stood at the bottom, followed by Madagascar (18.2), Mauritania (24.6), Niger (25.4), and Sudan (28).
Sri Lanka most agriculturally digitalised in South Asia
With a score of 80.6, Sri Lanka topped the index among South Asian countries on the back of their availability of the mobile coverage and the non-digital enablers. Meanwhile, with score of 62.3, India stood at second thanks to their development of non-digital enablers.
Bhutan is closely following Bangladesh with a score of 49.6, and placed at fourth followed by Nepal with a score of 49. Besides, Afghanistan (38.3) positioned at the bottom of the index in the region, followed by Pakistan (46.2).
The Maldives was not included on the index.
The World Bank noted in the book that "the index is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather serves as an entry point into identifying key foundational strengths and weaknesses for the enabling environment for digital agriculture development, and its contribution to agricultural transformation."