The government is all set to invest around $2.9 billion over the next five years on mechanised and climate-smart agriculture to grow more food, achieve nutrition security and reduce the cost of farming.
According to a concept paper prepared by the country's Economic Relations Department, food imports in Bangladesh have tripled in the last 10 years due to population growth. But, as by 2031, the country's population increases by about another three crores, the pressures will only increase.
Add the ongoing climate crisis to the equation and what you have is a recipe for disaster.
While we can ask what the government is doing, perhaps it's best to be prudent and turn the mirror on ourselves and our individual choices.
At a friend's wedding dinner, I was pleasantly surprised to be served with a plethora of options at the dining hall -- a buttery tandoori roti, mutton rezala, a spicy tandoori chicken, kacchi biryani with large chunks of meat and fat, a jali kabab, salad and firni.
Like other weddings, the dishes were being replenished when nearing an end. As expected, guests, myself included, filled our plates to the brim to gorge on the feast before us. In the end, most of it was wasted.
Where did that wasted food go?
Outside an up-and-coming convention hall in the capital's Dhanmondi, one can often find a number of blue-coloured drums -- something familiar to middle-class Bangladesh as mother's favourite water storage device -- full of wedding food that went uneaten.
It's a sign of overzealous parents or a soon-to-be-married couple who had ordered a ton of food that no one had eaten or eaten partially. For the event on that particular night, four such drums and one long rag were full of wasted food -- kacchi biryani, generous helpings of meat, potatoes and chicken.
Right next to the waste, sat four people -- two young girls and two elderly women -- all begging passersby for money or sustenance. It was quite a juxtaposition.
I asked a man, who was sitting near the now-garbage, what the food was being stored here for. "Fish feed," he replied. The food would be taken across the Buriganga, where it would be turned into nutritious fish feed. The whole ordeal spoke to Bangladeshis' hidden ability to recycle anything. But it was disturbing nonetheless.
The numbers, when it comes to Bangladesh's unhealthy relationship with food, are jarring.
Households in the country waste around 10.62 million tonnes of food each year, according to the Food Waste Index Report 2021 conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme and WRAP, a UK-based non-government organisation.
On average, a Bangladeshi wasted 65kgs of food each year, which is much higher than that being wasted by someone in Russia (33kg) or the United States of America (59kg).
Surprisingly, in the same report, it was mentioned that Afghanistan was the country that wasted the most food. So, the entire data can be taken with a grain of salt.
Even then, there are other equally eye-opening data.
Bangladesh was ranked 84th out of 113 countries in the Global Food Security Index (GFSI). It was the worst ranking among all South Asian countries.
The GSFI, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, this year considered four categories -- food affordability, availability, quality, safety, and natural resources and resilience.
The study found that Bangladesh's overall score in the index had dropped for the past two years, meaning the food security situation in the country could be going from bad to worse.
A July report by the World Food Programme stated that 25% of our population was food insecure, meaning they had less access to food with nutritional value. The same report also found that 36% of our children younger than five suffered from stunting, a form of chronic malnutrition.
Amid all this, when our big lavish weddings toss away generous amounts of food because the hosts don't want to be ashamed in front of their once-a-death-marriage-or-decade guest or the guest, like me, becomes a temporary glutton, the whole food crisis issue becomes harder to digest.
Our current extravagance will also come back to haunt us as the climate crisis exacerbates already existing food production problems.
During a speech on World Food Day on 16 October, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged all to stop wasting food as many countries in the world are going to face a famine-like situation.
She had sounded a frightening note of caution, urging scientists to think about the reuse of excess food and conduct research in this regard.
In a time when arable land is giving way to development, farmers are quitting their profession owing to unfair prices, and increasing salinity is making our soil more infertile than ever, perhaps we should all take a good, hard look at what's on our plate: when we start eating, and when we are done.
An individual cannot solve the food crisis, but curbing our gluttony and shows of extravagance can surely make a dent in the fight against food insecurity.
Yashab Osama Rahman is a journalist at The Business Standard.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.