Access to high-quality, affordable seed key to boost economic growth

Experts say at workshop of USAID Feed the Future Bangladesh Agricultural Policy project

Published : 26 Jun 2022 08:36 PM

Speakers at a technical workshop observed that access to high-quality, high-yield, affordable seed is essential to increasing crop productivity, quality, and diversity, furthering both economic growth and nutrition objectives for the Government of Bangladesh and USAID.

They also mentioned that agriculture sector is a key pillar of Bangladesh’s economy, employing nearly half of the population. 

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Feed the Future Bangladesh Agricultural Policy project hosted the technical workshop on National Seed Policy on Thursday, at the InterContinental Dhaka. 

A first of its kind, the workshop was attended by experts and leaders from the government, private sector, international development agencies, and academic/research institutions. 

The USAID Feed the Future Bangladesh Agricultural Policy project is a five-year initiative with the goal of strengthening the capacity of key agricultural actors and institutions to build inclusive policy systems through collective action. 

Simultaneously, the project will aid in building resilience among people and systems to foster a well-nourished population, especially women and children. Faheem Khan, Country Lead for the Feed the Future Bangladesh Agricultural Policy project, gave the keynote presentation that reflected the outcomes of the desk research, exploratory workshops, and key informant interviews conducted across the USAID Feed the Future Zone of Influence (Barishal, Khulna, and Jashore) and Zone of Resilience (Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban).

The findings were summarized into three emerging themes: 1) insufficient regulatory oversight is contributing to the proliferation of counterfeit and uncertified seeds in the market; 2) national-level policies create gaps in the market system ranging from high taxation on imported seed to suppressed market competition due to the subsidization of public seed producers; and 3) lack of awareness and access, coupled with poor business practices, constrains the adoption of modern, high-yielding seed varieties by farmers.

Dr. Md. Abdur Rouf, Additional Secretary (Current Charge), Ministry of Agriculture was present as Chief Guest and and Abdullah Sazzad, Additional Secretary and Director General, Seed Wing, Ministry of Agriculture chaired the event. 

Other special guests included Dr. Muhammad Khan, Director of the Economic Growth Office, USAID Bangladesh, Dr. Shaikh Mohammad Bokhtiar, Executive Chairman, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council, and M. Anis Ud Dowla, President of Bangladesh Seed Association.

 “Bangladesh has a lot to brag about in terms of agricultural progress. However, our regulatory approaches are still lagging and specifically a consistent challenge has been implementation of policies. Relevant government agencies have joined together to form committees to update and include important agendas from diverse perspectives into the seed policy”, Dr. Md. Abdur Rouf, Additional Secretary (Current Charge), Ministry of Agriculture, highlighted during his opening speech.

Dr. Muhammad Khan, Director of Economic Growth Office at USAID Bangladesh, added on by stating “Inclusivity is a key aspect. When more people representing various sectors of a country are involved, the policymaking process becomes much more equitable.”