Huge gaps in knowledge on rural issues due to lack of data and research: experts

The Executive Chairman of the Power and Participation Research Center (PPRC), Hossain Zillur Rahman, was speaking during a webinar on “How rural is rural Bangladesh? “. Photo: Snapshot

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The Executive Chairman of the Power and Participation Research Center (PPRC), Hossain Zillur Rahman, was speaking during a webinar on “How rural is rural Bangladesh? “. Photo: Snapshot

There are huge knowledge gaps on rural issues, including rural transformations and agricultural potentials due to a lack of up-to-date data and adequate research, experts said in a webinar yesterday.

These gaps should be reduced now to make the rural sector the future engine of the country’s growth, they said at the event on “How rural is rural Bangladesh? organized by the Power and Participation Research Center (PPRC).

PPRC Executive Chairman Hossain Zillur Rahman said there are many untapped areas in this sector to focus on.

He said there is a great lack of knowledge on rural transformation. “I think it’s very important that researchers come back to re-study rural dynamics,” he said.

“We need new analysis to determine the emerging middle class in rural areas.”

In addition, studies should be conducted on several other areas, including determining the quality and contributions of rural infrastructure, and the potentials of agriculture, Rahman said.

He said there is also a problem of interface between political and economic power in rural areas. The private sector joins the end of all this rural transformation as a new player, he said.

Rahman said studies should also focus on how the private sector is doing and what its dynamics are. “I think understanding these issues is very critical.”

He said farmers in India have a different connotation and presence. “Even they have a big political presence. But there is no farmer affiliation in our country for the contemporary period.”

“So there is a problem regarding the socio-politico-economic category. I think it is a significant problem of knowledge deficit,” he said.

Rahman said there is huge untapped potential in the rural context. “To harness resources, we need to connect. Scientists, policymakers and investors all need to come together.”

“We need to rethink the rural sector as a future engine of growth. It seems like the time has come to rethink the issue. This (rethinking) can happen at the grassroots level, but not yet so much at the policy level,” he said. he declared.

Highlighting several other issues that need to be addressed, he said there was a lot of talk but the dots weren’t connected. “I think we should have a collective agenda to harness the potential of the rural world through proper research and articulation.”

Taking part in the discussion, Geof Wood, Emeritus Professor of International Development at the University of Bath in the UK, said he strongly agreed that there is a serious lack of knowledge about different rural issues.

MA Sattar Mandal, Professor Emeritus, Bangladesh Agricultural University; Ahsan Khan Chowdhury, Chairman and CEO of Pran-RFL Group; Sanjida Akter from University of Dhaka and Abul Hossain from Green University also spoke as panelists.

Sean N. Ayres