The country is yet to become self-sufficient in rice production, despite a record yield of the staple food in fiscal 2020-21, admitted Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque on Friday.
Apparently in humour, the minister said, "We will be self-sufficient in no time if we can reduce our consumption of rice."
Attending a media call, organized by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on the occasion of World Food Day 2021, Razzaque said, "People in Japan on average eat 100 grams of rice a day, while a Bangladeshi consumes more than 380 grams," he said before his remark.
Bangladesh is observing World Food day on 16 October with the rest of the world, with the theme, 'Our actions are our future- Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life.'
"In fiscal year 2020-21, total production of rice [in Bangladesh] has been 3.86 crore tons, which is a record amount," the minister said in his written speech, before adding, "Bangladesh is now the third largest producer of onions in the world, producing a total of 33 lakh tons of onions [annually].
However, according to the Ministry of Food, the government has also allowed 415 traders to import 17 lakh ton of rice for market price control of rice.
Acknowledging this, the Agriculture Minister said, "With high demand and a low supply, prices will naturally go up. Traders seeking greater profits is a global thing."
Responding to a media query, the agriculture minister also admitted the weakness of our market management.
"It's our weakness, our market management is poor" he said, adding that now everything is more expensive and people are suffering.
The agriculture minister also said the country has not yet become self-sufficient in milk, egg, and meat production.
Regarding the high price of broiler chickens, he said prices will drop when production increases again within a month or so.
The agriculture minister said the government would have to subsidise animal feed to bring down the price of meat.
Robert D Simpson, FAO representative in Bangladesh, said about World Food Day, `We are putting unnecessary and unsustainable pressure on our shared planet. We need to respect our environment when we produce food and make sure that everybody has access to safe, nutritious, and affordable food.'
Banglabandhu Rice 100 (BRRI-100) to be released
To commemorate World Food Day, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will officially release a new variety of rice, Banglabandhu Rice-100 (BRRI-100), a variety high in zinc which will play an important role in meeting nutritional deficiencies, the agriculture minister said.
The Ministry of Agriculture and the FAO have jointly organised a day-long event to celebrate this year's World Food Day, scheduled for Saturday at the capital's Hotel Intercontinental. At the event, a book published by the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council, titled '100 years of agriculture development in Bangladesh,' will also be unveiled and launched.