Increasing Crop Production Benefits to Small Producers in Bangladesh
Agricultural production in South Asia is characterized by intensive use of inputs, such as fertilizers and irrigation water, and by a focus on production of staple crops, especially rice. However, continued growth of the agriculture sector is hampered by a number of challenges. In Bangladesh, these challenges include declining productivity of inputs, resource degradation, and lack of crop diversification. Expansion of agricultural lands is not an option given high population density. Rather, greater efficiency in agricultural production is needed to increase benefits to small producers. This paper examined the benefits of key crop production decisions for rural livelihoods across Bangladesh in order to suggest ways in which producers can increase returns to crop production. The study used plot-level data from a household survey to estimate the relative contribution of various inputs and practices to the total value of production from a given plot over the course of one year. Results were run separately for upper and lower expenditure quintiles to compare production outcomes for richer and poorer households. Three key results emerged: (1) that urea subsidies yielded benefits, though these might not be reaching those that needed it most; (2) that access to groundwater resulted in better production outcomes than access to surface water; and (3) that returns were greater from plots where rice was rotated with other crops.