Effects of COVID-19 on Boro Rice Farmers: Results From a Rapid Survey

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The agriculture sector employs more than 38  per cent of the total labour force in Bangladesh, making it the largest industry in the country in terms of employment. COVID-19 has left this sector particularly vulnerable; because of lockdown measures, farmers are simultaneously reeling from lower demand, higher cost, and shortage of inputs. In order to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the farmers of Bangladesh, BIGD conducted a nationwide phone survey of more than 2,800 farmers.

In the webinar titled “Effects of Covid-19 on Boro Rice Farmers”, Dr Narayan C Das, Senior Research Fellow, BIGD presented the key findings of the study based on the rapid survey carried out between May 20 and June 3, to analyze the challenges farmers face, assess the losses, and recommend appropriate measures to support them.

Followed by the presentation, there was a panel discussion and a Q&A session open to the participants. Honourable panellists included Prof Dr M A Sattar Mandal Emeritus Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Former Vice-Chancellor, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh; Sudhir Chandra Nath, Business Director-ACI Seed, Advanced Chemical Industries Limited; and Md Nasiruzzaman, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, GoB. Dr Imran Matin, Executive Director, BIGD moderated the session.

The study found that the yield loss per acre due to the pandemic was 7 per cent. In the survey, 40 per cent of the respondents reported that the cost of pesticides rose, 36 per cent said the cost of fertilizer increased, 21 per cent mentioned irrigation costs and 20 per cent pointed out the rising transport costs. Furthermore, the labour shortage was the most highly cited reason for the fall in production volume.