Bangladeshis basically an agricultural country. Agriculture sector is one of the vital sectors inBangladeshthat controls the economy of the country (Uddin and Alam, 2008). According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (2008), inBangladesh, the total arable land is 8.44 million hectare and one of the main contributors to the national GDP. Around 18.70% (Ministry of Finance, 2013) of the total GDP comes from this sector and employs just about 47.5% (MES, 2010, BBS) of the total work force. Agriculture includes farming crops, animals, fishery and foresting contributions. Farming corps includes paddy, wheat, jute, vegetables, sugarcane, pulses etc; animal farming includes dairy, poultry, fishery, sericulture etc. The importance of the agriculture sector has long been recognized by the Government of Bangladesh (GoB). Government has been launching a range of development projects and programs in the agriculture sector in the line of National Agriculture Policy formulated in 1999 (BBS, 2008). The GoB has targeted the year 2013 for getting the self-sufficiency on food.
Different Government Organizations (GOs) and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) are trying with diverse initiatives for strengthening the agriculture sector ofBangladesh. Though various efforts of improvement are in there, but the agriculture sector is facing a range of challenges for its development like over population, climate change, loss of agricultural land, infertile land, use of excessive pesticides, lack of inputs, improper irrigation etc. Recently Bangladesh Academy of Agriculture (Shaikh, 2008) has identified dearth of proper information and lack of inclusion of ICT are some significant challenges.
For providing agricultural information to the farmers GOs and NGOs has taken some time befitting initiatives. The Government of Bangladesh has established Agricultural Information Service (AIS) through which training guides, news letters, radio & TV programs, films etc. are arranged for disseminating information. It also uses different print and electronic media for this purpose. In 2010, AIS has developed SMS based information service with the help of a mobile operator ‘Banglalink’ and UNDP in the country. In 2003, under the “Support to ICT” taskforce program the ministry of agriculture of Bangladeshdid set up an agricultural information system. But it was not met the success because it was incompatible for extension due to lack of database supports. In 2005, a group of researchers of D.Net (Development Research Network, Bangladesh) proposed the idea of “Pallitathya Help Center” and conducted a project on it. But unfortunately it was not so successful. Since October 2008, an e-agriculture initiative known as “e-Krishok” has been using information and communication technologies to deliver information and advisory services to farmers in rural and remote locations at a lower cost. In 2009 ministry of agriculture inBangladesh with support from UNDP Bangladesh has initiated Agriculture Information and Communication Centers (AICC) in 20 areas. And agricultural information service has piloted 10 farmers community based Call Centers in those twenty areas (ebangladeshexpo, 2013).
Despite those initiatives, most of the farmers ofBangladeshare still in lack of information and modern agricultural knowledge. They need an easy access point to get and meet their information need. Information need has three basic elements: availability, access and utilization. But the GOs and NGOs initiatives are hard to reach and they lack ease of use by the farmers.
Under the above circumstances, this study has tried to measure the contribution of TV channels in disseminating agricultural information inBangladesh.
Information plays a key role in agricultural development and production and their effective communication will help facilitate mutual understanding among farmers, agricultural scientist and extension workers (Agboola, 2000). According to Kaye (1995) good information improves decision-making, enhances efficiency and provides a competitive edge. Knowledge and information are basic ingredients for increased agricultural production and productivity. Information is a critical resource in the operation and management of the agricultural enterprise (Opara, 2008). Abbas et al. (2008) argued that lack of information adapted to local needs and lack of technical knowledge at farm level are the important factors responsible for this low yield. Information is therefore considered as one of the most important resources in agricultural and rural development that assists the farmers to take decisions and appropriate actions for further development related to farming (Harris et al., 2001; Morrow et al., 2002 and Stefano et al., 2005).
Mass media methods in agricultural information dissemination generally, are useful in reaching a wide audience at a very fast rate. They are useful as sources of agricultural information to farmers and as well constitute methods of notifying farmers of new developments and emergencies. They could equally be important in stimulating farmers’ interest in new ideas and practices (Ani et al. 1997). Radio and television are the most effective tools in communication for the support of development (Hussain, 1997). TV can provide an illiterate person valuable instruction and education in agriculture, health population control, sanitation and other aspect of his daily life (Rahman, 1999). This paper tries to present the effect of agricultural information broadcasted by the TV channels ofBangladeshtowards the development of the farmers of the Durgapur Thana in the Rajshahi District of Bangladesh.
Television Channels in Bangladesh
The history of television inBangladeshbegan when a state-owned national TV station Bangladesh Television (BTV) started its terrestrial operations in 1964. In April 11, 2004 BTV has started “BTV World” satellite Transmission. The channel has contributed in the nation building process for more than 34 years without any partner. Besides education and entertainment, its mandate is to ensure the equitable dissemination of information to the mass people. It telecasts various programs comprising drama, documentaries, musicals, education and information, including 14 News bulletins in English and Bangle daily. BTV has a potential coverage of about 97 percent of the country’s population. For the greater interest of the nation 78% of the total programme include issues like agriculture, health and population, children and women, education and human rights etc. Its content mix comprises 20% news, 30% development and educative, 35% cultural and entertainment and other program 15%. (Bangladesh Television, 2013). In July 15, 1998Bangladeshentered in the new era of TV channel history as ATN Bangla the first private satellite TV channel started its transmission. The first private terrestrial TV channel inBangladeshwas Ekushey Television which started its operation in April 14, 2000. Later the channel has started its satellite transmission stopping the terrestrial transmission. At present there are 3 state-owned and about 24 private TV channels in Bangladesh (Ministry of Information, 2010; Wikipedia, 2013).
Bangladeshis largely the agriculture based country where a variety of crops and vegetables are cultivated all the year round. The environment is propitious enough for agriculture. About 50% people of this country are directly and indirectly engaged with the agro based jobs. The contribution of agricultural sector to GDP is 18.70%. In this regard, if it is possible to provide the right farmers with the right information by the right way, the success will be definite. Different mass media plays an important role to disseminate agricultural information. Television is one of the most popular electronic media among the natives of this country for news and information. Therefore, this paper attempts to analyze the contribution of various TV channels on the dissemination of agricultural information for the farmers for their agricultural enrichment. Findings indicate a positive curve towards the dependency on and contribution of TV channels. The study was conducted on three villages of Durgapur Thana in Rajshahi district of Bangladesh.