BRAC co-hosted the 8th international conference of the Asian Society of Agricultural Economists (ASAE) from 15-17 October at the BRAC CDM, Savar. The theme of the conference was 'Viability of Small Farmers in Asia' which bore testimony to the fact that ASAE responded to the call of the time. The conference which brought together over 200 researchers, academics and practitioners from 23 different countries including the Philippines, Japan, China, Korea, India, USA, Germany and host Bangladesh, comprised 8 plenary lectures and about 120 paper presentations. World renowned experts such as Dr. Randolph Barker, Cornell University; Dr. Will Martin, World Bank, Dr. Keijiro Otsuka and Dr. Tetsushi Sonobe from GRIPS, Tokyo, Dr. Thomas Reardon, Michigan State University, Dr. Agnes Quisumbing, IFPRI participated in the conference.
Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury inaugurated the conference. Presidential video speech was delivered by the Outgoing President of ASAE and the Philippine Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Dr. Arsenio Balisacan. Professor Dr. Joachim von Braun, Director of Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn delivered the Keynote speech. Welcome speech was delivered by MrFaruque Ahmed, Executive Director, BRAC International and Dr. Mercy M. Sambolia, General Secretary, ASAE.
The papers presented at the conference highlighted the fact that with rapid rural to urban migration, farm size gradually expanded which facilitated adoption of labour-saving technologies and accelerated agricultural productivity. The history of agricultural development has demonstrated that almost all the developed countries in North America and Europe followed that process. Through the discussions the panelists proposed that a public policy should be adopted to address the inherent constraints of small farmers in order to turn Bangladesh into a medium income country by 2020 and ensure food security.
Dr. Mahabub Hossain said: “In our country, such a conference can play a crucial role as our small farmer brothers freed the country from the grip of famine.” The conference elected Dr. Mahabub Hossain, advisor to the executive director of BRAC and also a senior agricultural economist as the new president of the Asian Society of Agricultural Economists for the next three years.