The average per capita rice consumption in Bangladesh was second highest in Asia from 2016 to 2019 and it will be the highest in Asia by 2020-21, according to a new report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations on Thursday.
In 2020-21, per capita rice consumption in the country will be 181.3kg per year, showed the UN's specialised agency's report titled the "The Food Outlook."
Despite various challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and floods, Bangladesh's rice production is set to reach 36.8 million tonne in 2020.
During the 2016-18 period, Bangladesh's average rice production per year was 35.3 million tonne.
According to the report, world rice production is set to reach 508.7 million tonne in 2020.
Per capita rice consumption was highest in Myanmar – 180.9 kg per year, while the amount for Bangladesh was 179.9 kg per year during 2016-19 period, while the world average was 53.5kg per year per capita during the period.
Bangladesh's cereal production is estimated to be 41.5 million tonne in 2019, while it was 39.5 million tonne on an average from 2016 to 2018. It will continue to rise in 2020 to 41.9 million tonne, according to the report.
The report also said per capita wheat consumption in Bangladesh was less than half of world average – 32.6kg per year – from 2016 to 2019. It will increase to 35.6 kg year in 2020-21.
Is enough food available now?
Presently, a critical question is that whether current global food supplies can satisfy food needs?
Internationally cereal markets in 2020-21 are well supplied, with prices affected by tightening markets for wheat and robust international demand for coarse grains and rice, the report notes.
According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) at the beginning of Covid-19 crisis, total capacity of warehouses and silos in Bangladesh stood at 21.72 lakh tonne in February of FY20, which was 21.48 lakh tonne in the same period of FY19.
The report forecasted that Bangladesh will have 8.3 million tonne cereal in the stock at the end of 2020, and 8 million tonne at the end of 2021.
Import of the cereal may increase by 0.1 million tonne in 2020-21 from that in 2019-20, while rice import may increase by the same amount in 2021.
Rice stock may fall by 0.2 million tonne at the end of 2021 from estimated 6.5 million tonne at the end of 2020.
Wheat stocks may reduce to 1.4 million tonne ending in 2021 from 1.5 million tonne ending in 2020. Wheat import may remain stagnant at 6.4 million tonne in FY21.
Major policy developments in Bangladesh
Bangladesh took some policy measures to control the price of rice, effective from 30 September 2020, fixed wholesale prices of fine rice (Miniket) at Tk51.5 per kg and at Tk45 per kg in the case of medium-quality rice, in an effort to avert further increases in prices of essentials.
Also, as a procurement policy, the government purchased parboiled rice at Tk36 per kg, white rice at Tk35 per kg and paddy Tk26.
Global food trade
Comparing the current crisis, the "Great Lockdown" with the last major crisis, the "Great Recession", a feature article by the FAO identified differences and communalities across countries and commodities
Global trade in food products has proven remarkably resilient during the pandemic, with developing countries even managing to increase export revenues.
Data available through June suggest "strong, albeit not complete, resilience of the global food markets to COVID-19 shocks," the report says in a special feature on recent trends in food imports bills and export earnings.
"The global food import bill for the whole of 2020 may even exceed that of 2019," says Josef Schmidhuber, co-author with Bing Qiao – both FAO economists – of the chapter. "There is, however, a noticeable shift away from high value food items to staples."
The report shows that developing countries have demonstrated notable "vivacity" in buoying global food trade flows. Their export earnings in the first half of 2020 rose by 4.6% compared to that in the same period of the previous year, while those of developed countries declined.