4.a) Impact an small farmers

The small farmers who, with their families, make up about two thirds of the whole population, have been the centre of attention in the Academy's past activities. The situation of this group has improved considerably over the past ten years. They benefited from the work of the cooperatives which freed them from the moneylenders' influence, arranged the supply of Inputs and services, especially tractors, and, in recent years, irrigation pumps. The rural administration programme made the public services available to the people in the village and the intensive training programme provided the technical knowledge necessary for modern farming and the proper use of modern inputs by the peasant. Thanks to the Rural Works Programme, they could make use of their spare time to earn some extra income and improve the infrastructure of their community. In recent years, the introduction of Winter irrigation made it possible to cultivate a third crop and thus increase agricultural production and income considerably. While, in general, the Comilla approach proved to be very successful in improving the living conditions of the small peasants, some points are still waiting for change. During the initial period of the Academy's work, the small farmers, by definition, were more or less subsistence farmers. It was justified, therefore, that the cooperative system put relatively little emphasis an the marketing of agricultural products. This situation has changed ,n the ....time. The production has increased with the introduction of improved varieties and fertilizers and the third crop during the winter adds to the amount harvested which now exceeds the home consumption to quite an extent. This calls for an extension of the activities in marketing which again depends, to a considerable extent, an the development of storage facilities. The construction of these at farm, village and central cooperative level is one of the great tasks facing the cooperative system in future. Only sufficient storage facilities will prevent high losses and ensure a continuous supply to mills, etc.

Much money has been spent in order to bring about the development of rural areas, even to the point that critics label the Comilla scheme as too expensive. In view of the living conditions of the small peasants, this was probably not only justified. but unavoidable at the beginning. After all, rural development is rightly considered by the Academy as an investment affair. Secondly, the introduction of new technologies will be very difficult if the small peasants are requested, from the very beginning. to pay for the inputs. Their income exceeds the subsistence level by such a small margin that they cannot take risks. Until the success of a new invention has become obvious, it has to be supplied free of charge. Otherwise, the introduction process will be very slow.

On the other hand, all subsidies should be stopped as early as possible. Then the new method has been introduced and the peasants enjoy the benefits of the resulting higher yield, they can be expected to spend part of their additional gain an the input. In this way only will the public get back part of its investment and be able to reinvest it in other projects. Subsidies are usually a poor method of helping people because they tend to be discriminating. Supply of irrigation water almost free of cost after the period of introduction provides unnecessary additional funds to those who are lucky to have a tube well in ad addition to the income resulting from the increased yields, while many others do not get anything, neither tube well water, nor a subsidy price for it. Subsidies beyond the point at which they are necessary are poor economics and tend to spoil the people because they reduce initiative and develop the notion of the state as "rich uncle." while it is difficult to define exactly up to what time subsidies are necessary and when they can be withdrawn, it seems that they are often granted beyond necessity and a careful consideration of their usefulness could save considerable amounts of money.

Much emphasis has been laid an training in the Comilla approach. As a matter of fact, the integration of training in all the other activities is perhaps the most important feature of the approach. However, it should be discussed whether the balance between classroom training and practical demonstration meets the requirements. The bottleneck consists perhaps in finding people who are willing to do the practical demonstration in the fields. The reluctance of trained personnel to do "dirty" work is proverbial. To overcome this in future, it would perhaps be necessary to lay more emphasis an youth programmes. Training the youth, i.e., the future master farmers, cooperative managers, etc., would be an investment in the future which might be very rewarding.

The main emphasis of the cooperatives, up to now, was an savings, credit and supply. The future work could perhaps be shifted somewhat more towards direct cooperation to increase production. Experiments with cooperative farming have had limited success only. But this should not stop experimentation along these lines. Joint decision making of the cooperatives an the key factors influencing the production (type of seed, amount of fertilizer, sowing and planting time, amount and time of irrigation, etc.) would perhaps help to improve the performance of the less qualified farmers. The lesson of the Egyptian land reform cooperatives will be of interest in this regard. For some products, a sort of vertical integration might be applicable, for instance, in the case of crops sold to the cold storage. Such a type pf Cooperation for productive purposes might be easier to introduce than full fledged cooperative farming. A field in which cooperation for productive purposes has already started is irrigation. The scope could probably be extended to a considerable extent, for instance, if tube wells which, so far, are installed by the Government and supplied for a nominal charge could, some time after introduction, be purchased by the village cooperative and paid out of the increased income as a result of irrigation. In this way, the Government would get back part of its investment in a sort of revolving fund which could bring benefits to other farmers as well.

So far, the development in agriculture as well as the introduction of high yielding varieties and fertilization and the extension of the cropped area by winter irrigation led to an increase in rice production. fortunately, the country, under peaceful conditions, can expect to achieve a self sufficient rice production in a not too distant future. As soon as self sufficiency is achieved, part of the area under rice cultivation has to be diverted to other crops to avoid a surplus in rice. This diversification of the cropping pattern is a difficult process which needs long and careful preparation. In order to avoid difficulties, it seems indicated, in the near future, to intensify the experiment in research of alternative crops. Not only should other suitable crops be tested, but such side effects like capital and skill requirements, market possibilities, storage and transport requirements, impact and risks, employment and income, food habits, etc., have to be investigated as well. As such research is very time consuming, an early start is advisable.

After ten years of practical work in the Kotwali Thana, one might want to do some research an the cooperative System developed. Especially the plans to establish the Comilla System in other Tnanas require some knowledge of the principles of the system. Oho are the cooperative managers and model farmers, sociologically speaking, and what are the causes for success and failure of villages cooperatives? Is it possible to elaborate some prerequisites for successful cooperatives In this case, work in other Thanas would be facilitated by concentration an such villages which fulfil these prerequisites and. therefore, are likely to yield favourable results. 1n recent times, some dynamics in the village structure have been observed. While nothing concrete is known, it seems that the established leadership pattern is challenged by young educated people in the village. Such developments are of great importance for the cooperatives and need careful and early studies to find out the type and possible implications. On the basis of the knowledge pained, it will be possible to make decisions an how to integrate the emerging new pattern of leadership into the rural development activities and how to adjust the cooperative and administrative institutions to the developments in the society.

These comments do not reduce the effectiveness of the Academy's project, especially if compared with other schemes for rural development. Looking into these problems seems the more necessary as, regardless of all benefits the cooperatives have brought to villagers after ten years only, in about 5O per cent of the villages a cooperative exists, and only about one third of the cultivators are members. Motivation and aspiration of the peasants are, to quite an extent, still hidden in the dark.