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Economists call for land reform to up farm output PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 September 2008

Staff Correspondent

Speakers at a seminar have called for greater access to land for the rural poor, arguing that it would increase farm output and strengthen economic growth in rural areas.

Demands for immediate initiatives for land reforms, recovery of Khas land (state property) from grabbers and establishing rights of landless people were also aired at the seminar on Tuesday.
They agreed that limited access to land makes agriculture a difficult solution to poverty for the rural poor.
The seminar on 'Access to land and other natural resources by the rural poor' was organised by Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP).
Economist Dr Selim Raihan in his keynote presentation said although poverty in Bangladesh has been reduced over the years, the depth of poverty is still very acute.
"In particular, rural poverty remains very high," he added.
Raihan, who teaches at the Dhaka University, in his study said previous attempts of land re-distributive reform through fixing ceilings to give lands to farmers have failed as the lands have largely been grabbed by the influential people.
He identified land reform as a vital part of agrarian reform where land ownership is the central element.
The study suggested providing poor farmers support services to help them transform access to land to productivity and growth since poor farmers cannot afford to take the full risk of owning lands.
Economist and former caretaker government adviser Wahiduddin Mahmud, who spoke as the chief guest, said politically influential people, instead of the poor and landless people, hold the Khas lands.
The incumbent caretaker government being a non-political administration had the opportunity to take steps against these land-grabbers, he added.
"Whether they succeeded or not is to be seen."
He suggested a strong local government as well as adequate laws to establish rights of landless people.
Local government secretary ATM Fazlul Karim, CIRDAP director general Durga P Paudyal, and research director at CIRDAP Nasreen Khundker, among others, also spoke.

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