Syed Saifyullah visited the Food Studies Master’s students in their Food, Environment, and Society class on Monday, 26 September, to join their discussion about structural transformation. Mr. Saifyullah’s presentation, “Economic Development and Structural Changes in the Economy of Bangladesh”, gave the students a real-world example of the applications of structural transformation.

Bangladesh is the world’s most densely populated country, a problem which has a significant impact on Bangladeshi farmers. “Farmers must have a farm that is large enough for them to create a savings,” said Saifyullah, adding that if the farmers cannot save, they cannot grow, and ultimately cannot invest. This lack of ability for investment is one of the main factors that has kept farmers in Bangladesh from being able to work out of a life as a subsistence farmer.

Over time, attention was turned to the structural transformation of agriculture in Bangladesh, and the results were significant. Policy reform, a shift to capitalist modalities, access to technology, and education all lead to a structural change in the economy, and agriculture followed as a result. Bangladesh worked to liberalize the economy, which gave farmers the freedom to produce, liberalized the market, giving farmers the freedom to sell, and opened trade. Ultimately, per capita income increased, and poverty, undernourishment, population, unemployment, and dependence on imports all decreased.

In a world where well-intentioned organizational collaboration is often met with red tape, Bangladesh provides an encouraging example of the significance that structural transformation can have on communities, at a local level, and on a global scale.

Mr. Saifyullah’s credits include acting as former FAO Senior Economist, President of the Euro-Asian Centre for Policy Studies and Management (ERUSMA) in Rome, Italy, and the Pollibir Development Organization (Pollibir Unnayan Sangstha), an NGO in Bangladesh.

Author: Kate J. Truini