Covid-19 opened up opportunities to reshape the system and we need to start thinking of developing and implementing a new economic model that touches all basic needs of people. Consequently, now is the time to exert on an alternate landing, a new economic model for Bangladesh that solves the current insurmountable problems and is supported by the masses in the face of the gross weaknesses exposed by the pandemic.
The general perception is that Bangladesh is an unorthodox economy where almost no economic formula works and we are amply sufficient in policies with least implementation. Profitable utilisation of demographic dividend and economic emancipation of the masses go neck and neck—explicable to the genius of the people in these days of stalemate fashioned by Covid-19. The apprehension is that we are trying to manage our economy with this analog bureaucracy and outdated politicians where people have become more digitalised.
It is admitted on all hands that surpluses are being created only by the most ignored sections of the society—farmers, remittance senders and garment workers, and the surpluses are being appropriated and expropriated relentlessly through the manipulative government system and bad governance. Ultimately, the growing population of Bangladesh will not get everything it needs provided the present trend of the economy is not changed. We don't have the capacity to change the whole economy overnight but we can bring about a radical change in our most strong sector, our agriculture.
If the plans of the government regarding infrastructure, remittances and garment remain same i.e. ceteris paribus, we can progress astoundingly and amazingly by being uncompromising in matters of agriculture. New dimensions in the field of agriculture may be extended and we may be elated with the hope of introducing new and latest technologies and simultaneous initiatives to make people cope with these technologies will go a long way in bringing dramatic changes in this field.
The government must institute a panel of experts consisting of scientists, agricultural economists, economists, planners with unconditional policy support and sheer independence in the decision making process. A connected set of legal, economic, and social institutions in agriculture in the face of Covid-19 that are thought to be necessary for or at least especially conducive to sustained economic growth. Moreover, increasing the budget of agriculture, enhancing infrastructure and eliminating middle-man and manipulative government systems i.e. all out efforts in agriculture can guarantee food security.
In contexts of survival, agriculture can help both ends meet—food security for the people and reduce spread of disease because this great task of agronomy can be performed while maintaining physical distancing. Moreover, a huge influx of unemployed due to Covid-19 can be absorbed in this sector. Vertical farming, automation, Internet of Things, Blockchain technology and genetic editing in agriculture can be instrumental in absorbing educated young unemployed. In fine, a sufficiently high agricultural productivity to support a densely populated country like Bangladesh – a necessary precondition for reaching an unbounded horizon of progress and development, at least at times of Covid-19- one of the greatest marvels of our time!
Mohammad Mamun Morshed Bhuyan, Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics of University of Chittagong