Farmer: the undefined status by state

Policymakers should come up with a specific country-based definition of 'farmers'
Photo: AMiRuzzaman, ActionAid Bangladesh
Bangladesh team
Officer - High Value Market Development, RM

As core volunteer in Activista Bangladesh, I am passionate about youth volunteerism and aware about youth’s power.


I came across a new word called ‘small farmer’ while reading the National Agricultural Policy, 1999 of the Government of Bangladesh. The term, ‘small farmer’, is not defined in the policy. It emphasizes especially on ‘small farmers’ but there is no definition available to comprehend the phrase. Who are small farmers, what do they do? The status has been formed but without any specified indicators. This has to be branded, but how?

The policy says, ‘Agriculture contributes about 32 percent to the country’s GDP.’ The clarification related to ‘small farmer’ has to be comprehensible for all. I am aware about the word ‘farmer’ but not ‘small farmer’. First of all, the difference between farmer and small farmer needs to be identified and then I assume it will be easier to understand the concept. So, let’s  start talking about the word farmer and what do they do, what are the activities do they have to perform to be called as farmer? What are the indicators that define them as farmer? I perceive there is no explanation in the policy that describes a farmer. But, there should have Bangladeshi context based indicators that implies one to be recognized as farmer.

It’s quite surprising to know that there is nothing defined and specified to identify who is a ‘farmer’ and who is a ‘small farmer’. Besides, there are a large number of women who contribute to the country’s agriculture. The state has given a name to a large community, which significantly contributes to the national GDP and plays an imperative role in the country’s development, yet its status is undefined in the society which indirectly marginalized the community. On this backdrop, it’s tough to reflect on the future growth of agriculture in Bangladesh.

It’s essential for the policymakers to consult with the people, involved in agriculture, to decide upon the Bangladeshi context based recognized status of farmer. The identity crisis of farmers may generate economic repercussion and increase societal inequity which we might not be able to address within a short period of time. Farming is one of the oldest and respected professions in the world, though lack of acknowledgment made it one of the hardest and disregarded works across the globe.

A defined status as well as recognition of farmer, small farmer and women farmer can avert the existing marginalization. It will also let them contribute more to national production and GDP which will eventually accelerate the cycle of sustainable development of the country.

As a youth food rights activist, my legitimate appeal to all the policymakers to come up with a specific country based definition of farmer to ensure their rights to contribute to the world’s betterment, because without farmers we will remain hungry and it will affect all of us regardless of country, class and gender.