A new era dawns
Department of Agricultural Marketing inaugurates e-governance project
Syed Tashfin Chowdhury
BANGLADESH is finally on the threshold of living 'the e-governance dream' as an increasing number of government departments and ministries are initiating e-governance based websites and application software.
The latest department to follow this trend and introduce their own e-governance application project was the Department of Agricultural Marketing under the Ministry of Agriculture.
The web site for the application project, www.dam.gov.bd, was officially launched at the DAE auditorium on January 9.
The project was technically and financially assisted by the Support to ICT Task Force Programme (SICT) of the planning ministry while Knowvision was the consultant.
Kazi Abul Kashem, secretary, Ministry of Agriculture launched the site as the chief guest at the event. Sirajul Islam, director, Department of Agricultural Marketing (Dam) was the chairperson at the event while Sheikh Enayetullah, additional secretary, Ministry of Agriculture was also present as the special guest.
Md. Abdur Rouf, deputy project director, SICT, Planning Commission, Shafiqur Rahman, managing director, Knowvision, and Nasar Uddin, deputy director and focal point officer of the project under the Ministry of Agriculture spoke at the occasion.
"Farmers, producers, traders, exporters, importers and consumers can benefit through this site with updated market information about various goods in the agricultural market throughout 20 districts," said Nasar Uddin at the event.
He pointed out that in order to ensure fair return to the farmer, timely and reliable market information is necessary. Access to up-to-date market information on 260 different products of the 20 districts will assist farmers to take appropriate strategies to sell their products within a feasible price range.
"We have provided offices in these 20 districts with the necessary hardware, manpower and technical skills through which they can upload information on specific products to the site daily," Nasar Uddin told StarTech.
This governance will ensure coordinated and timely information exchange between the district offices and Dam.
As for browsers, important data can be easily downloaded from the site according to specific commodity, market and the date range. Besides this, users can obtain historical data of agricultural products in tabular data, graphical price trends and other forms.
"The site will prove extremely vital for researchers and policy-makers through the updated resources," he said.
Policy-makers can be more informed about price trends, variations, demand and supply of agricultural products in specific areas of the country and take appropriate measures during moments of crisis.
The concept of the site began with Dsm's automation and dissemination of collated information from 10 important districts, through a static website in 1991.
"We were financially and technically assisted by the Food and Agricultural Organization (Fao) back then. Through that site, users could obtain only those reports published by Dam," he said.
Later, Dam availed the assistance from SICT Task Force Program project of the planning commission to cover 20 more field offices. The program also facilitated them to develop an application and this interactive website under the title 'e-governance application at the Department of Agricultural Marketing under the Ministry of Agriculture'.
"Under the North-West Crop Diversification Project (NCDP), we have covered 14 more districts. These districts are waiting to be accommodated under our new information system," he said.
With this, Dam would cover a total of 44 districts through out Bangladesh.
Fortunately, the site is not just the end of the e-governance project for Dam under the Agricultural Ministry.
"The up-to-date prices and the current number of districts are just a beginning," assured Nasar Uddin.
He informed that the SICT Task force program project has already been proposed to initiate internal office automation software.
"This will increase the organisation's efficiency, transparency and accountability," he explained.
Furthermore, Dam has long term plans to enable the district offices into resource centres in the near future.
"We plan to have an effective e-governance system through which we can cover the entire nation," he concluded.