The impact of shallow tubewells and boro rice on food security in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has made notable progress in achieving food security, despite extreme population pressures, limited land resources, and an agrarian structure dominated by small and tenant farmers. After two decades of sluggish performance prior to the late 1980s, the production of rice—the dominant staple food—has increased much faster than the population. The development of minor irrigation, particularly private, investment-based expansion of shallow tubewells, has contributed to this impressive performance, and was an outcome of the government’s market liberalization policy for irrigation equipment in the late 1980s. This policy promoted rapid expansion of irrigated “boro” rice farming in the dry season. The fast diffusion of boro rice in the rain-fed, low-yielding “aus” rice area contributed to accelerated growth in rice productivity, a reduction in the unit cost of production, and a decline in real rice prices. Together, these factors have been a major factor behind attainment of food security and moderately reduced poverty in Bangladesh over the last two decades.

Author: 
Hossain, Mahabub
Published date: 
2009
Publisher: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Series number: 
917
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