Agriculture is the dominating economic contributor in Bangladesh and employed the biggest portion of population. We always heard many initiatives to promote agriculture and increase production capacity, but only few initiatives have been taken to commercialize agriculture to ensure ‘Better price’ of the produces. This is not simple, it is complex and possibly that’s why government is taking the short cut ways. We have not seen any effective initiatives has been taken to disseminate updated and modern ‘information’ to the farmers. The reason behind is not the bad intention rather inefficiency of the concern officials to understand the value of ‘Information” in the whole agriculture system. They are concerned with mainly ‘tangible’ inputs not this most vital info component. For example, it has been observed that due to various reasons farmers use excessive fertilizers and pesticides in farming which cause high production cost & pollute environment and cause health hazards. To address this issue (Fertilizer component), SRDI (Soil Resources Development Institute) developed a ICT based solution (Fertilizer Recommendation Software-FRS) jointly with a development agency which seems very effective and can contribute significantly to reduce production cost, but due to lack of resources of the concern department of the government, this whole initiative is still not fully functional. Farmers in field are not properly communicated properly about this excellent initiative, only limited communication was made by couple of telecos in collaboration with a donor funded project.
Farmers are largely dependent on the fellow farmers or retailers for any kind of information they need. Since long Bangladesh Institute of ICT in Development (BIID) is working with the farmers and relevant stakeholders to promote usage of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) at field level to disseminate information, we have seen the gap and also realized that the government extension department yet don’t realize the value of information rather than any other inputs like seed, fertilizer and pesticide. We also understood that to create awareness among the farmers to use latest information on agriculture and its complex to make a sustainable mechanism to deliver information to the farmers.
Now time has come to take an integrated effort to promote ‘information’ as input and prioritize it in the national development agenda. In this process, government should play the pro-active role to facilitate the free flow of quality information (including FRS) to the farmers in collaboration with private sector actors. This information component can cover input sourcing, technology, market price, management, packaging, transportation, etc. i.e. the full value chain of agriculture. BIID foresee a PPP (Public Private Partnership) model to resolve this most burning agenda.