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Farm Mechanization: Removing the last barrier in Bangladesh

Black_cats

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Farm Mechanization: Removing the last barrier in Bangladesh
Reaz Ahmad
  • Published at 05:25 pm February 22nd, 2021
Crop-establishment-by-rice-transplanter-in-Kendua,-Tangail

Crop establishment by rice transplanter in Kendua, Tangail Dhaka Tribune

Synchronized cultivation practice rolled out all over Bangladesh, machines come into play; no farmers will plant rice seedlings by hand after five years

Less than a quarter of Bangladesh’s farming community belongs to the medium and big farmers’category, whose average farm size is above 1.5 acres. However, a vast majority of farmers, 76% of them, are small and marginal, who either have no lands of their own or possess small farms (up to 1.49 acres of land).
Among many other things, this reflects shrinking land holdings in Bangladesh. Fragmented land holdings are standing between farmers and adoption of farm mechanization.

The government has recently taken initiative to remove this last barrier that has long been holding Bangladeshi farmers back from applying farm machines.

In the current Boro season, for the first time in Bangladesh, some 3,000 acres of land across the country are being brought under a ‘synchronized cultivation’ scheme – where the farmers together in each of the given areas planting the same crop at the same time applying rice transplanters. Boro is the biggest of the country’s three rice growing seasons – Aus, Aman, and Boro.

Earlier, the farmers sowed Boro seeds in trays and then after three to four weeks transplanted the same to rice plots applying mechanized transplanters thereby, achieving uniform seed germination and crop emergence. The government will also provide them with support to harvest the paddy in April-May with harvester machines.

The decision came after the government successfully implemented synchronized cultivation in 12 upazilas in 12 districts earlier.

In the current Boro season, the agriculture ministry is providing fertilizers, seeds, irrigation and harvesting support to farmers who join the community cultivation typically on some 50 acres of land in 61 out of the country’s 64 districts.

According to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), synchronized cultivation is an indispensable initiative for agriculture in the coming days and there is no alternative to synchronized cultivation to properly utilize the equipment to reduce production costs.

How does synchronized cultivation work?

In this cultivation practice, rice seeds are sowed in trays thereby releasing lands for farmers to grow something else. Once seeds are germinated, a rice transplanter carries the seed trays and moves mechanically in a certain farm bloc planting the seedlings in uniform rows.

Take Kendua village of Tangail’s Dhanbari for an example. Some 90 farmers in that village got united and together they own 50 acres of land. After germinating their seeds in 4,500 trays for about a month they used a transplanter for a few days starting from February 20 to plant hybrid paddy --Hera-1 -- in all 50 acres of land.


Once the paddy is ripened by May this year, these 90 farmers will employ a harvesting machine and reap the benefits by sharing the crop among themselves.

What is the benefit of synchronized cultivation?

While planting rice manually is a backbreaking task taking farm labourers several days to complete the job, a rice transplanter can accomplish the same in an hour in each acre of land.

A Kendua farmer, Shah Ali said: “We saved Tk1,500 per bigha (Tk4,500 per acre) in labour costs thanks to planting Boro seeds by a rice transplanter.”

Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque, a big time promoter of farm mechanization in Bangladesh, expressed hope that no farmers in the country will plant rice seedlings by hand five years from now.

He also said that the government has created posts for 284 agriculture engineers to facilitate farmers adoption of farm mechanization and provide them with farm machinery maintenance services.

 

Bilal9

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Some types of Rice harvester made and used locally (ACI is local brand), govt. provides 50-70% rebates on purchase of agri-machines.

Rice harvester small
 

Michael Corleone

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Man the other day I was discussing with my friend how bangladesh is such a small country yet produces food for 160+ million... whereas in ukraine farming is sparse even though it’s mechanized... they’ve never reached there peak... if Bengali farmers owned farmlands in ukraine... I reckon there would be nothing such as food shortage in the world
 

bluesky

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Man the other day I was discussing with my friend how bangladesh is such a small country yet produces food for 160+ million... whereas in ukraine farming is sparse even though it’s mechanized... they’ve never reached there peak... if Bengali farmers owned farmlands in ukraine... I reckon there would be nothing such as food shortage in the world
Bd has about 21 million acres of farmland to feed 160 million people and the country imports rice every year. Productivity/yield is quite low. It is in big love with Burma now because Burma will supply 100,000 tons of rice to BD.

In comparison, Japan has about 8 million acres of farmland that feed its entire 130 million people. It imports some rice only because the foreigners here want to consume other types of rice.

Japan cultivates only one time a year. BD produces at least two rice crops a year. So, BD productivity is quite low. It is less than half of the Japanese production.

We are quite wrong to assume BD land is fertile. It is the water that helps it to produce food. Otherwise, the land lacks many organic matters and so, the farmers have to spray expensive local and imported inorganic/chemical fertilizers to make it up.
 

Michael Corleone

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Bd has about 21 million acres of farmland to feed 160 million people and the country imports rice every year. Productivity/yield is quite low. It is in big love with Burma now because Burma will supply 100,000 tons of rice to BD.

In comparison, Japan has about 8 million acres of farmland that feed its entire 130 million people. It imports some rice only because the foreigners here want to consume other types of rice.

Japan cultivates only one time a year. BD produces at least two rice crops a year. So, BD productivity is quite low. It is less than half of the Japanese production.

We are quite wrong to assume BD land is fertile. It is the water that helps it to produce food. Otherwise, the land lacks many organic matters and so, the farmers have to spray expensive local and imported inorganic/chemical fertilizers to make it up.
Mechanization would probably be what’s holding us back... afterall number of farmers have been going down for decades
Don’t agree with last paragraph, soil doesn’t need to be rich in all kinds of mineral to be classed as fertile. Overworking lands leads to depleting of nutrients, it’s not bad to use fertilizers to restore fertility
 

Homo Sapiens

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Bd has about 21 million acres of farmland to feed 160 million people and the country imports rice every year. Productivity/yield is quite low. It is in big love with Burma now because Burma will supply 100,000 tons of rice to BD.

In comparison, Japan has about 8 million acres of farmland that feed its entire 130 million people. It imports some rice only because the foreigners here want to consume other types of rice.

Japan cultivates only one time a year. BD produces at least two rice crops a year. So, BD productivity is quite low. It is less than half of the Japanese production.

We are quite wrong to assume BD land is fertile. It is the water that helps it to produce food. Otherwise, the land lacks many organic matters and so, the farmers have to spray expensive local and imported inorganic/chemical fertilizers to make it up.
Japan may be self-sufficient in Rice, but it's per capita rice consumption is less then one-third of Bangladesh. And Japan it heavily dependent on other countries for other agricultural products, such as red meat, poultry, milk, fruits, fodder crops etc. I looked at the Faostat data to see the comparative harvested area, production quantities and yield of both countries. Cereal production in Japan is 6.3 ton per hectare and in Bangladesh, 4.8 ton per hectare. Bangladesh produce 4 times more cereal than Japan, it's production of other agri product bar vegetables also much more than Japan. Japanese agriculture is highly modern and scientific while Bangladeshi agriculture is still largely primitive. Japan has half the amount of agricultural land of Bangladesh.

You can also look at the comparative performance of agriculture of these two country here-

Banglades's soil is certainly very fertile. Otherwise how it is possible to churn out 2-3 crops from the same plot of land in every year for thousands of year? It seems, this land do not exhaust. Because land in Bangladesh every year get renewed by flood silt deposition. Deltaic flood plain everywhere has exceptional fertility and agricultural bounty. This is true in Nile delta in Egypt, Rhine delta in Netherlands, Mekong delta in Vietnam as well as Ganges-Brahmaputra delta in Bangladesh.
 

Bilal9

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Locally manufactured medium sized rice transplanter machine (Janata Engg.). This one can transplant 1 Bigha (0.33 acres) in one hour, so three hours to complete 1 Acre. Usually takes 8 laborers about 5 hours to transplant 1 Bigha, so huge savings in cost as well as money. Laborers are getting very scarce to find for field work, they have much better paying jobs in the industrial sector.

 

jamahir

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Instead of this old-style mechanization what Bangladesh needs is a mix of Vertical Farms, Urban Farms, Collective Agriculture and water pipelines. Especially for a flood-prone country like BD.
 

bluesky

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Don’t agree with last paragraph, soil doesn’t need to be rich in all kinds of mineral to be classed as fertile. Overworking lands leads to depleting of nutrients, it’s not bad to use fertilizers to restore fertility
The uses of chemical fertilizers, phosphorus/ ammonia-based, deplete the soil of essential substances.

BD farmers should learn how to make organic fertilizer or compost. Organic fertilizer is being used in Japan for a long time and it introduced to Taiwan and Korea when it was their colonial master in around 1900 AD.

That is why the rice yield in both these countries is very high almost equal to the Japanese yield.
 

bluesky

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Japan may be self-sufficient in Rice, but it's per capita rice consumption is less then one-third of Bangladesh. And Japan it heavily dependent on other countries for other agricultural products, such as red meat, poultry, milk, fruits, fodder crops etc. I looked at the Faostat data to see the comparative harvested area, production quantities and yield of both countries. Cereal production in Japan is 6.3 ton per hectare and in Bangladesh, 4.8 ton per hectare. Bangladesh produce 4 times more cereal than Japan, it's production of other agri product bar vegetables also much more than Japan. Japanese agriculture is highly modern and scientific while Bangladeshi agriculture is still largely primitive. Japan has half the amount of agricultural land of Bangladesh.

You can also look at the comparative performance of agriculture of these two country here-

Banglades's soil is certainly very fertile. Otherwise how it is possible to churn out 2-3 crops from the same plot of land in every year for thousands of year? It seems, this land do not exhaust. Because land in Bangladesh every year get renewed by flood silt deposition. Deltaic flood plain everywhere has exceptional fertility and agricultural bounty. This is true in Nile delta in Egypt, Rhine delta in Netherlands, Mekong delta in Vietnam as well as Ganges-Brahmaputra delta in Bangladesh.
Please note that I was talking about the YIELD of rice per acre or hectare. Consumption is another matter. Moreover, BD produces two crops and Japan produces one yearly crop.

Japnese yield is 2,200 kg per acre. What is the yield in BD? It is about 800kg for each harvest. BD soil is not that fertile. It produces this much because of the use of chemical fertilizer in huge quantities.
 
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Michael Corleone

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The uses of chemical fertilizers, phosphorus/ ammonia-based, deplete the soil of essential substances.

BD farmers should learn how to make organic fertilizer or compost. Organic fertilizer is being used in Japan for a long time and it introduced to Taiwan and Korea when it was their colonial master in around 1900 AD.

That is why the rice yield in both these countries is very high almost equal to the Japanese yield.
you’re confused with your classification between organic compounds and chemical fertilizer.
phosphorus based fertilizers are made by acidulating phosphorus rocks... such fertilizers come with NPK balance to avoid barrenness.
If you’re talking about organic supplements of phosphorus then manure is your best bet, but you would still need nitrogen fixation (growing nitrogen rich legumes) in between crop cycle and potassium... and it’s usually more complicated since you’ve to calculate ratio needed in proportional to respective areas... and add in extra supplements
usually farming boards recommend region specific pre packaged fertilizers... there’s nothing wrong with using NPK restoring fertilizers.
 

bluesky

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you’re confused with your classification between organic compounds and chemical fertilizer.
phosphorus based fertilizers are made by acidulating phosphorus rocks... such fertilizers come with NPK balance to avoid barrenness.
If you’re talking about organic supplements of phosphorus then manure is your best bet, but you would still need nitrogen fixation (growing nitrogen rich legumes) in between crop cycle and potassium... and it’s usually more complicated since you’ve to calculate ratio needed in proportional to respective areas... and add in extra supplements
usually farming boards recommend region specific pre packaged fertilizers... there’s nothing wrong with using NPK restoring fertilizers.
Organic fertilizers contain only plant- or animal-based materials that are either a byproduct or end product of naturally occurring processes, such as manures, leaves, and compost. Inorganic fertilizer, also referred to as synthetic fertilizer, is manufactured artificially and contains minerals or synthetic chemicals.
 

Michael Corleone

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Organic fertilizers contain only plant- or animal-based materials that are either a byproduct or end product of naturally occurring processes, such as manures, leaves, and compost. Inorganic fertilizer, also referred to as synthetic fertilizer, is manufactured artificially and contains minerals or synthetic chemicals.
Organic fertilizer is expensive and not abundant enough
Japan can afford it because they’ve a huge cattle farming industry too. As for the elements within... phosphorus from manure and phosphorus from rocks aren’t different in structure nor is one more beneficial than the other.
the only benefits of a organic fertilizer may be humus content
 

bluesky

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Organic fertilizer is expensive and not abundant enough
Japan can afford it because they’ve a huge cattle farming industry too. As for the elements within... phosphorus from manure and phosphorus from rocks aren’t different in structure nor is one more beneficial than the other.
the only benefits of a organic fertilizer may be humus content
The main source of Japanese organic fertilizer is paddy straws. They cut the upper sheaf from time immemorial and leave the straws in the fileld. After the harvest the farmers tilt the land only one time after rainfall makes it wet and soft.

This causes the straws to rot and become a part of the soil. Wet straws then keep on mixing with the soil for more than 8 months until the next season. This is the main organic source of Japanese fertilizer. Another big source is of course is the composting cow manure as well as tree leaves.

However, the Japanese farmers supplement the shortage by adding also a minimum quantity of chemical fertilizer as well. But, organic fertilizer remains their main source. Japan has the greatest productivity.

On average, it is 2,200 kg per acre. The main point is the soil in Japan has a lot of organic matters because of volcanic eruptions since time immemorial. So, the soil is basically very fertile.
 

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