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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Save our countryside

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The most alarming news for Bangladesh is the brisk disappearance of its arable lands. Noticeably, growing industrialisation, rapid urbanisation and mindless encroachment of human habitat have quickened the process. According to World Bank data, 66.1 percent of the total area of the country was farmland back in 1961, which figure came down to 58.92 percent in 2014. The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, in its recent report, has also mentioned that arable lands in the country are fast depleting by around 40 thousand hectares each year due to non-farm purposes, meaning there will be literally no farmland 50 years from now.

The country will subsequently lose food security for sure, making its people entirely exposed to a volatile international food market. In search of farmlands for the country's rising population, forests, which now roughly stand at 11 percent of the total area, will be diminished and water bodies will be filled up as a consequence, dealing irreparable damage to the environment and nature, which might more frequently cause natural calamities like floods, drought, cyclones, landslides. Huge numbers of people would turn into climate refugees, straining relations with neighbouring countries.

Therefore, a solution to the critical issue of farmland depletion could be the formulation of an erudite and pragmatic land use policy. Notably enough, the 2009 parliamentary standing committee on agriculture suggested a stringent law to completely stop the use of agricultural lands in non-farm activities. The government should no longer delay and hesitate in enacting the law in this respect.

The horizontal expansion of residences, schools and colleges, factories, industries and the like should be minimised while they may be encouraged to go vertical. The high population growth rate should be checked. Farmers, on the other hand, should be discouraged from the overuse of fertilisers and insecticides in the soil, for these chemicals may loosen the soil compaction and quicken erosion. An inclusive effort from all quarters of the country can prevent the farmlands from diminishing any further.

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