Per capita consumption of eggs in Bangladesh has crossed the minimum threshold set by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.
According to the Department of Livestock, each Bangladeshi currently on average consumes 104.23 eggs a year, while the FAO says a person should eat a minimum of 104 eggs per year to remain healthy.
However, experts say people in developed countries on average eat more than 200 eggs every year.
All this information was revealed at a virtual conference organised on the occasion of World Egg Day on Friday.
During the discussion, experts said eggs have played a significant role in the development of immunity and antibodies amid the Covid-19 epidemic. Besides, eggs also contain Vitamin D and zinc,which help to reduce the risk of Covid infection, they added.
It was revealed that Bangladesh is now self-sufficient in egg production. The country also has the potential to export eggs.
The conference was jointly organised by the Ministry of Livestock, Bangladesh Poultry Industries Central Council (BPICC) and the World's Poultry Science Association – Bangladesh Branch (Wapsa-BB).
Experts and businessmen from all over the country joined the conference and expressed their views on the subject.
The government has observed this year's Word Egg Day across the country with the theme, "Eat eggs every day, increase immunity".
Raunak Mahmud, secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, addressed the event as the chief guest, while BPICC President Moshiur Rahman moderated it.
Raunak said the government will provide Tk686 crore in assistance among 6.2 lakh poultry and dairy farms, under the LDDP project funded by the World Bank.
Under this project, cash assistance will be provided to about 2 lakh poultry farmers, he added, asking all stakeholders to stay alert so that no fake farmer gets this help.
He added that till 8 October this year, about Tk6,000 crore worth of eggs were sold through mobile shops, under the initiative of the livestock ministry.
He went on to say that steps will be taken to include eggs in the mid-day meals at schools and to include the nutritional value of eggs in the primary school curriculum.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, a minimum of 104 eggs should be eaten by each person annually, said Dr Abdul Jabbar Sikder, director general of the Department of Livestock. In FY20, per capita consumption of eggs in the country increased to 104.23.
Nathu Ram Sarkar, director general of the Livestock Research Institute, said the rate of malnutrition in Bangladesh has come down significantly compared to the past. According to the 2017-18 health survey, the number of stunted children has come down to 31% from 41%.
As poultry eggs are larger in size compared to those of country chickens, the amount of nutrients in poultry eggs is also higher.
Dr Khaleda Islam, professor of the Institute of Food and Nutrition at Dhaka University, said Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of getting infected with Covid-19.
"Because eggs naturally contain Vitamin D, more eggs can be eaten during the pandemic. It boosts our immunity," she asserted.
Dr Shawkat Ali, professor in the poultry science department of Bangladesh Agricultural University, and Professor Dr Ilius Hossain, chairperson of the same department, presented the keynote paper at the conference.
In their keynote address, they said special types of eggs are being used to treat cancer.
They also advised people who have allergies to eggs to eat hypo-sensitive eggs.
Dr Shawkat said people suffering from diabetes can reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease by eating 12 eggs a week.
Fazle Rahim Khan Shahriar, president of the World Poultry Science Association –Bangladesh Branch, noted that the poultry industry has created employment opportunities for millions of people.
Last year, egg-centric trade in the country was around Tk12,467 crore, he said. He expects the volume to increase this year.
According to the Poultry Network, China currently produces 34% of the total number of eggs in the world.
Meanwhile, China, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union together meet about 60%of the global demand for eggs.
Globally, Mexico is the largest consumer of eggs, in terms of per capita consumption. The number of eggs eaten on average by each person in the country is 368. In Asia, Japan has the highest rate of per capita consumption of eggs – 337.
To mark this year's World Egg Day, one lakh eggs have been distributed in 50 spots across the country. The spots include slums and orphanages.