Emam Hossen, a youth MSP from Cox’s Bazar, is displaying his rice transplanter [Photo: Asmaul Husna]
The active involvement of youth, defined by the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia–Mechanization Extension Activity (CSISA–MEA) as aged 18 to 29, in agriculture mechanization is on the rise, with some having tertiary education degrees and engaging in agricultural machinery initiatives, bringing a significant change to Bangladesh’s agriculture sector by working as machinery solution providers (MSPs). Since CSISA–MEA’s activity in the area in 2019, around 73 youth working in agriculture-based light engineering (ABLE) and as MSPs are active in the Feed the Future Zone of Resilience (ZOR), a challenging area for agriculture due to its geographical location and the impact of the Rohingya refugee community, including Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban, whereas the area had hardly any before the CSISA-MEA activity. This reflects the fact that 50 percent of the MSPs engaged in CSISA-MEA in the ZOR are youth.
Emam Hossen (29) is an MBA graduate from Cox’s Bazar Government College and a youth entrepreneur. He owns one reaper and three rice transplanters which he uses to cultivate four acres of land and to provide machinery services on a further 18–20 acres of land. This benefits 25–30 farmers in his locality and in neighboring areas such as Tek Para, Pokkhali, Jalalabad and Islampur. His shift from being part of a traditional farming household to MSP came about after his involvement, starting in 2021, with CSISA–MEA, an Activity funded by USAID and implemented by CIMMYT in partnership with iDE and Georgia Institute of Technology.
Growing up in the toil of traditional farming inspired Emam to find innovative solutions to alleviate the physical burden of working the land. CSISA–MEA demonstrated to him how to continue working in agriculture in a way that is less strenuous and which at the same time contributes to providing a solution to the labor shortage in his area. In 2021, he enthusiastically bought a rice transplanter, using the government subsidy and his personal savings. With this machine he created work for some unemployed youth in his area, while increasing productivity and his business’s profits. In 2022 and 2023, he bought two more rice transplanters and began to employ around 10–15 unemployed youth from his area in agricultural machinery services.
Emam says, “As my father has farm lands, I grew up seeing how hard physical work agriculture is. I always thought of if one could do these works easily like by using some magical power. Now technology is taking that role and helping to increase productivity and growth using less manual labor.”
Emam’s journey is a clear reflection of the potential of educated youth in Bangladesh’s agriculture sector, with the strategic engagement of young minds gradually transforming the landscape of agricultural machinery in the region. As part of the mechanization extension activity conducted by CSISA, Emam represents a larger cohort of young, dynamic agricultural business and service providers who are redefining the traditional farming norms.
In the ZOR, MSPs have distinguished themselves as key collaborators in the achievement of agricultural mechanization. They provide a wide range of services involving cutting-edge agricultural machines such as combine harvesters, rice transplanters, reapers, and threshers, as well as providing farmers with technical support. CSISA–MEA data show that in these regions, 271 MSPs are working in several capacities supporting small farming households.