What is needed for progress in agriculture in South Asia?

Policies that support agriculture in South Asia need a change of approach if they are to become more effective. A recent article highlights the research results from the project “Institutions to support intensification, integrated decision making and inclusiveness in agriculture in the East Gangetic Plain”.

Inputs from agricultural experts in the region overwhelmingly pointed to access to quality inputs as the main barrier to improving the incomes of farm households. This is particularly interesting, given that much of the policy attention in the region has focused on the prices farmers have to pay for inputs, and there has been less attention given to quality input access.

In addition, cheaper farm inputs were rated quite low by the experts as a way of raising farmer incomes. This was particularly the case for experts with experience in the Indian policy setting, where access to quality inputs was adjudged as being at least three times more effective than simply offering cheaper inputs. Arguably, this also reflects the fact that input subsidies can make it more difficult for some farmers to acquire seed, fertilisers, and other inputs.

Another important finding was that the experts also had relatively consistent views about the best way to deliver on improving access to quality inputs for farmers, rating the private sector as the best mechanism for improving access.

The findings suggest a need for more targeted support measures to raise and stabilise farm incomes. The full article can be found here in Bangladesh’s The Daily Star.