ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Agricultural Growth in Bangladesh, 1949-50 to 1980-81-A Review of the Evidence

A Review of the Evidence James K Boyce A review of the evidence on Bangladesh's agricultural growth from 1949-50 to 1980-81 suggests that official statistics have understated both the level and growth of agricultural output in recent years. Recent 'objective' crop acreage estimates, and land use analysis based upon aerial photography, indicate that as much as one million acres of crop land may be missing from the country's official agricultural statistics. Current annual rice output may be underestimated by 400,000 metric tonnes or more. Whereas agricultural output growth rates estimated from official data indicate a decline from, 2.15 per cent per annum in the period 1949-64 to 1.52 per cent in the period 1965-80, the revised series reveals an opposite movement: output growth rose from an estimated 127 per cent in the earlier period to 2.18 per cent in the latter Such output underestimation does not, however, imply that the magnitude of hunger in Bangaldesh is any less severe than reported in past studies. Rather, the present study suggests that widespread malnutrition, incidence of which is determined in large part by the distribution of income and hence of food, has occurred within a context of higher national agricultural output than is recorded in the official figures.

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