Bangladesh is in the list of 45 countries with food shortage

The name of Bangladesh has come again in the list of 45 countries in the world with food shortage. In that list, there are 33 countries in Africa, 9 countries in Asia, 2 countries in the Latin and Caribbean region and Ukraine as the only country in Europe. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) placed these countries on the list of food shortages due to declining production and imports and rising prices of food grains.

The United Nations agency released the report titled ‘Crop Production Prospects and Food Situation’ this month on December 4. This report was published after three months.

The FAO report cites economic crisis, lack of food supply for the Rohingya, loss of crop production due to floods and increase in food import costs and prices as reasons for Bangladesh’s inclusion in the list. This list has the name of Bangladesh since 2021.

According to the report, due to the impact of Covid, the income of the people of Bangladesh has decreased, poverty has increased. In this, food has to be provided to 1 million Rohingya who have taken refuge in Bangladesh from Myanmar. The floods in May and June caused damage to crops, property, houses, livestock. This has reduced the standard of living of the people in the flood-affected areas.

One of the pressures on food security in Bangladesh has been attributed to the rise in global food grain prices. According to the report, due to the Russia-Ukraine war, the prices of flour and edible oil have increased at an abnormal rate. Prices of other import-dependent food items are also on the rise. Food production in 2022 is 4.4 percent lower than in 2021 due to floods and lack of rain. In 2021, 6 crore 66 lakh tons of grain food including rice, wheat and corn have been produced. This year it has decreased to 6 crore 23 lakh tonnes.

When asked, Food Secretary Ismail Hossain told Prothom Alo, “The import of wheat has decreased due to the price increase in the world market. We are trying to increase import of wheat. For this, I am giving more support and encouragement to the private sector. Hopefully, wheat import will increase in the future, the price will come down. The import of rice is also being increased at the public-private level.

According to ministry sources, the open market sale (OMS) program has been expanded due to the increase in the price of rice and wheat in the country. In the major cities of the country, including the capital, rice sales are usually closed in OMS from December to February. But this time also the government has decided to continue this program. An additional 360 thousand tons of rice has been allocated for these three months.

The government has allowed private sector traders to import 15 lakh tonnes of rice. Three and a half lakh tons of rice has already arrived in the country. However, the government has decided to buy a total of 3.2 million tons of rice and wheat from abroad. Rice comes from India, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar. And wheat is coming from Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Canada.

When asked to know, the former research director of Bangladesh Institute of Development Research (BIDS) M Asaduzzaman told Prothom Alo that the poor families of the country are in danger due to the increase in food prices in the world market. OMS activities are capital and city centric. The people of the village are now in the most food crisis. Food products should be easily accessible to them at low cost.

Apart from Bangladesh, other South Asian countries in the FAO list include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. 33 countries including Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon among African countries. There is Latin American country Venezuela and Central American country Haiti.

According to the report, the production of grain food in the world this year has decreased by 2 percent compared to last year. This year, 172 crore 2 million tonnes of grain food will be produced, which is 72 lakh tonnes less than last year.