Is Growth in Bangladesh's Rice Production Sustainable?
38 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: October 1996
The current level of per capita production of rice in Bangladesh can be sustained only through increased yields of modern rice varieties.
The recent growth of foodgrain (primarily rice) production in Bangladesh has outpaced population growth largely because of the spread of green revolution technology. The transition from being labeled a basket case in the early 1970s to the virtual elimination of rice imports in the early 1990s is particularly remarkable considering the severe land constraint in Bangladesh. Two decades of concerted government efforts to achieve rice self-sufficiency have created both an atmosphere of optimism and concerns about whether rice self-sufficiency is sustainable.
Baffes and Gautam find that rice production grew in Bangladesh between 1973 and 1994 mainly because of the conversion of rice-growing areas from local to modern varieties. Simulations suggest that the current level of per capita production can be sustained only through increased yields from modern rice varieties.
Other factors that could affect growth in per capita rice production are population control (which is found to have significant long-term benefits) and faster conversion of remaining areas to modern varieties (which is found to have important short-run payoffs).
But population control and faster conversion to modern varieties are only complements for the most important factor: efforts to increase the yields from modern rice varieties. If policies designed to raise the overall rate of economic growth and reduce poverty succeed, it will be even more critical to focus on increasing productivity.
This paper - a product of the Commodity Policy and Analysis Unit, International Economics Department - is part of a larger effort in the department to analyze global food security issues.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation