Despite concerns over the supply and prices in the international market due to the war in Ukraine, Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder does not see any fear of food shortage in the country in the current financial year.
"There was no shortage of food grains in the country in fiscal 2020-21, there is no risk of a shortage in fiscal 2021-22 too," he said in parliament on Tuesday in response to a question from Ali Azam, a ruling Awami League lawmaker.
Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi claimed that the prices of edible oil and other essential commodities have remained stable in the local market.
In a mathematical presentation, the food minister showed that the production of food grains should be more than the demand of the population this fiscal year ending in June.
According to him, the agriculture ministry has set a target of 407 lakh tonnes of food grain production – 394.81 lakh tonnes of rice and 12.26 lakh tonnes of wheat – in fiscal 2021-22.
As per the Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2016 conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the average daily food intake of people is 387 grams – rice 367.2 grams and wheat 10.8 grams, the food minister said at the beginning of the session presided over by Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury.
As such, if the country's population is estimated at 169.30 million in FY2020-21, the total requirement of food grains was 239.14 lakh tonnes – rice 226.90 lakh tonnes and wheat 12.24 lakh tonnes, which was less than the total production in that fiscal year.
Taking the population growth rate at 1.37%, the country's total population is to be estimated at 171.53 million on 1 January 2022. As such, the total demand for food grains will be 242.30 lakh tonnes. That too is less than the target of food grain production in FY2021-22, he added.
From this calculation, the minister concluded, "There is no risk of food shortage in the country."
Responding to a question from Momota Hena Lovely, an Awami League lawmaker from a reserved seat, the food minister said internal wheat and boro procurements would start from 1 April and 28 April, respectively.
"The government has set a target of procuring 6.5 lakh tonnes of rice, 11 lakh tonnes of parboiled rice and 50,000 tonnes of atap rice in the coming boro season," he said in response to a question by BNP lawmaker Mosharraf Hossain.
Commodity prices remain at a tolerable level: Commerce minister
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, in response to a question from M Abdul Latif, a ruling party lawmaker, acknowledged that oil prices rose in the country because of a surge in the international market.
But, he added, due to effective measures by the ministry, prices of essential commodities including cooking oil have remained stable and tolerable.
The trade deficit amounts to $16.242b
In response to another question from Mohammad Ebadul Karim, a ruling Awami League lawmaker, the commerce minister said the country's exports in fiscal 2020-2021 was $45.367 billion while the trade deficit stood at $16.242.01 billion.
"We have a trade deficit with India, which is declining," he said while replying to a question from MP Lutfun Nesa Khan.
In fiscal 2020-2021, Bangladesh's exports to India increased to $1.279 billion from $512 million in fiscal 2010-2011, he added.
Replying to a question from MP Benazir Ahmed, the minister said the present government has taken steps to sign free trade agreements and preferential trade agreements with various countries to increase trade potential. According to an agreement with China, duty-free access will be available on 8,256 products.
2,861 buying houses in the country
In response to a question from MP Mozaffar Hossain, the commerce minister said there are a total of 2,861 buying houses in the country.