Among South Asian countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are facing major food security risks. But Bangladesh, fortunately, is not at risk though there is a danger of food inflation in Bangladesh.
Although there is a threat of food shortage all over the world, Bangladesh faces no food security threat. Bangladesh is well prepared to avoid any kind of food crisis. After Boro's bumper crop, there was some initial apprehension about achieving Aman's production targets due to the negative impact of non-rainfall. However, the government has already taken the initiative to import an additional 10 lakh (1 million) metric tons of rice to avoid a possible crisis. In this, 3.5 lakh metric tons of rice has arrived in the country, said several top officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce.
The objectives of the current food policy of the Bangladesh government are to achieve self-sufficiency in food by ensuring the production of necessary food; encouraging farmers to produce more food; purchasing crops from farmers at subsidized prices or at incentive prices during harvest; ensuring proper supply and distribution system of the crops produced in the country; facilitating access to food for low-income people; keeping food prices in line with the cost of production of crops and the purchasing power of the people; proper storage of food produced or collected from other sources; establishing food-stocking systems or emergency food storage for disaster situations; food price control; strengthening of food management systems; and gradual reduction of food subsidies etc. To achieve these, 32 guidelines have been prepared with 20 goals and objectives in mind. The first goal of the policy is to gradually reduce food insecurity and increase food intake per capita to 16 ounces per day.
The World Bank said in a recently published report that Bangladesh is not at risk with food security even though the level of food security risk has increased terribly in almost all countries of the world in the current global scenario. Among South Asian countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are facing major food security risks. But Bangladesh, fortunately, is not at risk though there is a danger of food inflation in Bangladesh.
According to the report, rice exports from Bangladesh has been stopped to ensure food security. The government implemented this decision last June 29. It will remain in force till December 31.
Bangladesh third in rice production
The report also says that in some countries rising inflation may put food beyond the reach of the poor. Food inflation is now above 5 per cent in 88 per cent of low-income countries, 91 per cent of middle-income countries, and 93 per cent of high-income countries. The World Bank has expressed fear that the inflation rate in these countries may rise to double digits. Already in many countries, this rate has crossed double digits.
Those concerned say that along with food security, the adequacy of fish, meat, eggs, milk and vegetables is necessary for nutritional security. And for nutritional security, proper storage and supply of the mentioned products is a big need. If the production of vegetables, fish and rice in Bangladesh can be increased, if a proper preservation system can be developed, Bangladesh can become a food exporting country besides meeting its own needs.
Thanks to Bangladesh's hard-working farmers, Bangladesh is now the third country in the world in rice production after China and India. Along with this, policy support by the government to agricultural scientists is also playing an important role.
Bangladesh's Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzak said, "There is no shortage of food grains in the country. Although there is a fear of food crises the world over, Bangladesh is well placed in terms of food security."
(The author is a researcher-writer and teacher in Rajshahi, Bangladesh. Views are personal. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)