The prices of various food items in Bangladesh have gone up as the food supply chain has been disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, creating a food crisis.
This information was presented in the keynote address of a seminar titled "Food and Nutrition Security in Post Covid-19 Era in Bangladesh: Achievement, Challenges and Way Forward" jointly organised by Farming Future Bangladesh and Bangladesh Institute of Research and Training on Applied Nutrition (BIRTAN) to talk about the food and nutrition security in the light of the covid-19 post-pandemic era on Thursday, reads a press release.
Md Saidul Arefin, Professor, Institute of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Dhaka, in the keynote address, said the supply chain has suffered worldwide. There was panic buying too. These have led to a food crisis after Covid-19. As a result, the price of food has also gone up in the market.
During the pandemic, the income of farmers and lower-class people has decreased. As a result, low-income people have to struggle to buy food. They are not able to pay attention to nutritious food as they have to struggle to buy basic food due to a reduction in income.
Mentioning that farmers had faced various problems during the Covid-19 period, the keynote article said the closure of seed and fertiliser shops had disrupted crop production. A labour crisis was also created. Due to these reasons, the supply of agricultural products is greatly reduced.
Agriculture minister Dr Md Abdur Razzak, who was present as the chief guest on the occasion, said, "Bangladesh is now self-sufficient in food crops, but the challenge now is to make it more nutritious."
He said poor people in the village still sell milk, eggs, etc and buy rice and other food but they also need to eat nutritious food like milk and eggs. Many people cannot afford to buy these.
The agriculture minister said besides increasing the production of vegetables and fruits, we have to ensure that all people increase their purchasing power. For this, people's income has to be increased. New investments are needed to create job opportunities, he added.
Secretary of the ministry of agriculture Nasiruzzaman blamed panic buying for the rise in rice prices.
Citing several international studies, icddr,b executive director Dr Tahmid Ahmed said in low-income and middle-income countries, the average per capita income will decrease by 4%, malnutrition will increase by 14% and child mortality will be 1.24 lakh due to malnutrition.
A few recommendations for tackling the next challenge were suggested in the programme. It called on the government to take steps to implement food distribution programmes under social programmes, develop storage systems, strengthen the supply chain, increase food supply, reduce post-harvest food wastage, and provide financial assistance to farmers under incentive packages.