Eco-friendly and organic farming in Bangladesh : International classification and local practice
Author(s)Hoque, Md. Nazmul
Contributor(s)Rural Sociology and extension
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AbstractAgriculture plays a crucial role in overall economic development of agro based developing countries like Bangladesh. In those countries, green revolution emerged in 1960s with the slogan of "produce more food". Within a couple of years, farmers received "package technologies" of HYV seed-fertilizer-irrigation. With the adoption of these technologies, farmers started to use chemicals and they were getting more production for a decade. Most of the newly developed inputs and technologies were subsidised, even free that time. After some years, farmers as well as policy makers get warning of yield reduction and large negative impact on human and the environment like degradation in soil quality, contamination of groundwater, increased costs of production, health hazards, etc. The uses of chemicals as well as prices are still increasing every year in Bangladesh. Question rise, how long the process of exploiting land and other natural resources - could be continued. We must find the alternate ways before going the situation at an uncontrolled level. The study is an attempt to protect natural agricultural resource bases from further degradation in Bangladesh and to ensure long term sustainability in agricultural system. With the concept of sustainability of agriculture, developed countries are practicing "organic farming", where they strictly maintain standards and regulations. The developing countries are practicing organic for export and in many places, for local consumption, the farmers are trying to reduce the overall use or indiscriminate use of chemicals in agriculture that is very often termed as "eco-friendly". Based on the overall situation, the objectives of the study are to compare Bangladeshi standards with international rules and to look for the constraints and possibilities of eco-friendly way of farming in Bangladesh. Qualitative research method has been followed to conduct the study. Data have been collected from three different sources documents, interviews and observations. A total of 22 key informants have been selected by following purposive and snowball sampling technique. Interviews were recorded through digital voice recorder and transcribed verbatim by researcher. Transcripts were then entered into MAXQDA10, a qualitative data management software programme. A coding frame was developed considering research questions. Data were analysed in the light of inductive approach. For comparison purpose, a couple of important international standards have been chosen like, IFOAM basic standards, CODEX Alimentarius guidelines, EU regulations, USDA, Japanese agricultural standards (JAS), NAASA and Indian Organic Standards. The IFOAM Norms and Codex Guidelines stand are the two international organic baseline standards. The three standards EU, USDA and JAS are the main regulations that dominate all other standards and influence the "organic product" growing countries. The comparisons have been made based on the "IFOAM Basic Production Standards" such as land conversion to organic, Selection of crops and varieties, Soil fertility and fertilization, pest, diseases, weeds and growth management, avoiding contamination etc. private and government level. Among all NGOs, the study chose Proshika, Ubinig and Community Development Association. Two private organizations (Dhamrai dairy and Kazi and Kazi tea farm) have also been selected. Besides, few organic researchers and extension workers from different govt. institutions have been chosen as the key informants of this study. Organic concept in Bangladesh is introduced and carried out by NGOs. At present, govt. also started to think about sustainability in agriculture. In terms of production practices, Proshika gives emphasise on crop rotation and compost, UBINIG on local variety seeds and govt. on pest management. Nayakrishi farmers are very near to the standard of EU, USA and Japan. Kazi farm is already exporting 100% of their products in the USA and EU countries. Proshika and BARI farmers and Dhamrai dairy need to improve animal husbandry and fertilizer management to reach at international level. Bangladesh agriculture is in vicious circle due to using chemicals. The major barriers that have been found in this study could be classified as: government thinking of "organic farming has negative impact of on food security", excessive promotion of hybrid seed in the name of "availability of good quality seeds", allocation of budget to subsidy on chemical inputs, insufficiency of organic inputs, farmers poor knowledge, increase in the area under HYV, sales promotion by pesticide dealers and companies, regulation of pesticide marketing, lack of consumers awareness, lack of media campaign, problems of organic product marketing etc. Still there are positive points that make us hopeful that "organic way of farming" is possible in Bangladesh. Researchers have pointed that organic agriculture could be a way to food security for small and marginal farmers as well as consumers. Now, it is also realized at policy level that "we are at crossroads to review whether the current use of agro chemicals is appropriate". To reduce the use of chemicals in Bangladesh agriculture, the research has forwarded some important recommendations, like, quality seed production at domestic level, introducing organic friendly agriculture policy, broadcasting in media on "the harmful effects of conventional agriculture", farmers´ training and participatory research, establish an independent organic farming research institute, eco-village, increase the manpower at DAE, organic farming in education curriculum, development of marketing system, etc. Generally speaking, government and non-government organizations should concentrate their highest efforts in identifying the key problems. Short, medium and long term goals and standards should be established to achieve sustainable food security. However, at this moment we have to trade off among sufficient food production to keep pace with population growth, alleviating poverty, increase the intensity of agricultural production and maintaining favourable ecological conditions for sustainable agriculture.
Obwohl die Landwirtschaft eine entscheidende Rolle bei der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung des Landes Bangladesch spielt, haben die Vorgehensweisen in der modernen Landwirtschaft negative Auswirkungen für die Bauern und die Umwelt. Es gibt erhebliche Probleme hinsichtlich Erosion und Verarmung der Böden und der Verschmutzung des Grundwassers mit Pestiziden. Die Produktionskosten steigen, die Betriebe der Bauernfamilien verarmen und die Qualität der Lebensmittel nimmt immer weiter ab und stellt eine Bedrohung für die Gesundheit der Bevölkerung dar. Die Anwendung von Chemikalien und Düngemitteln nimmt in Bangladesch jedes Jahr weiter zu, weil die Bauern aufgrund der abnehmenden Bodenfruchtbarkeit nicht die erwarteten Produktionsmengen erzielen. Gleichzeitig steigen die Aufwendungen für die landwirtschaftlichen Produktionsfaktoren. Infolgedessen werden die Bauern Tag für Tag ärmer. Es ist fraglich, wie lange dieser Prozess der Ausbeutung der Böden und anderer Umweltressourcen noch weiter gehen kann. Die natürlichen Ressourcen sind schon in großem Ausmaß zerstört. Ein Ausweg besteht darin, sich für umweltfreundliche Maßnahmen zuentscheiden, die sowohl dem augenblicklichen Bedarf decken als auch die zukünftige Nutzung sicherstellen. Dies ist notendig, bevor die Situation außer Kontrolle gerät. Die vorliegende Studie ist ein Versuch, die natürlichen landwirtschaftlichen Ressourcen Bangladeschs vor weiterem Raubbau zu schützen und eine nachhaltige Produktion sicherzustellen. Die Literatur zum organischen Landbau hat wirkungsvolle Ansätze um in dieser Situation nachhaltige Verbesserungen zu erreichen. Um ökologische Produkte zu verkaufen, ist eine Zertifizierung erforderlich, die mit hohen Kosten verbunden ist, was für bengalische Bauern kaum zu verwirklichen ist. Außerdem ist es das erklärte Ziel der Regierung in der Lebensmittelversorgung autark zu werden. Es gibt Befürchtungen von dieser Seite, dass ökologische Praktiken zu verminderter Produktion und noch größerer Abhängigkeit führen könnten.