Recent Developments in Mechanized Cultivation: Emerging Issues in the Agriculture of Bangladesh

Working Paper
FMRSP Working Paper 33

The agriculture that we witness in the contemporary developed world has reached this stage of high modernity over decades of development in mechanical, biological and chemical technology. Asian developing countries, including Bangladesh, have experienced only limited progress in advancing their agriculture along the technological path, mainly through the bio-chemical innovations involving seeds and fertilizers. However, irrigation development that provides a basic foundation for seed fertilizer technology portends a substantial degree of mechanization. Mechanization of cultivation for clearing, plowing and leveling of cropland has spread rather thinly in Asia, perhaps because of a factor endowment dominated by abundance of labor and scarcity of land. But careful analysis of countries like Taiwan, Korea, Thailand and Malaysia demonstrate that highly productive agriculture cannot be attained without application of modern mechanical technology to complement seed-fertilizer technology. Even, the success of both the Indian and Pakistan Punjab in the development of a progressive agriculture tells us this fact of the re-enforcing role of mechanized cultivation.
Deepening of seed-fertilizer technology and expansion of commercialization have begun to bear upon the spread of mechanized cultivation in Bangladesh as in many other developing countries of Asia. The production process in crop agriculture entails a number of strenuous field operations. The effectiveness of these operations determines the extent of production through changes in both yield and cropping intensity. This paper focuses on mechanized cultivation, particularly, power tillers and tractor cultivation.
It is apparent that labor requirements for rice cultivation are highest in the land preparation and planting phase of the production cycle. This phase spreads over about a month. The second phase of inter-culture operation spreads over about two months and in this phase the labor requirement is relatively thin. In the final phase of the production cycle - the harvesting season of rice that extends over a period of about a month - the labor requirement is again pretty high.
The objective of this paper is to provoke fellow researchers and invite them to undertake new studies on various issues of mechanization in crop production of Bangladesh. As we will see later, mechanization has assumed a heightened trend in recent years and is still an unexplored area in policy research. The paper therefore, sheds little light on empirical findings, but possibly generates enough heat to induce colleagues in new studies on mechanization. 

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Date and language
Feb 2001
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