Is growth in Bangladesh's rice production sustainable?
The recent growth of food grain (primarily rice) production in Bangladesh has outpaced population growth largely due to the spread of green revolution technology. The transition from 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. The authors find that rice production grew in Bangladesh between 1973 and 1994 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 and faster conversion of remaining areas to modern varieties. 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.
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