One small step at a time
Despite commendable performance in a number of economic indicators and although we are gradually but surely moving towards becoming a lower-middle income country, Bangladesh still suffers from corruption and inefficiency. However, there are a number of digital innovations that have been rather effective in address these ills of public service.
In this age of industrialisation, agriculture is still an important sector accounting for a fifth of the GDP and almost half the labour force. Compared to the industrial and service sectors, agriculture has a low return and low growth but benefits a significant portion of the population with its wide reach.
Despite being the mainstay of the economy in many ways, agriculture has not yet managed to advance at a desired level mainly because of a lack of education and training of the farmers, low use of suitable technologies, inadequate government support, etc. The Upazila Agriculture Offices, which are responsible for providing necessary support and advice to the farmers, are often lacking in resources or inept or apathetic.
However, with a simple innovation — requiring visitors to fill out a form with their particulars and then handing them a token that they could either put in a red box, meaning dissatisfaction with the service, or a green box, meaning satisfaction — has completely changed the way agricultural offices work.
People from far and wide have expressed their pleasant surprise and even commended the Lalmonihat agriculture office for this innovation. The district’s deputy commissioner wants to undertake similar measures at all other public offices of the district.
The service evaluation system ensures fast service in manner that is beneficial to the recipients while office employees may be held accountable for any lapses. This system has been running since April 2016. Since then, the agriculture office was able to go without single token in the red box for four months. The fact that recent months have seen all tokens going into the green shows that services are getting better.
*The writer is Upazila Agriculture Officer, Patgram Upazila, Lalmonirhat District