Washington-based global food research think tank -- International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) -- has called for more investment in research and development of non-rice crops in Bangladesh.
IFPRI said research is imperative to enhance per unit productivity of non-rice crops so people in Bangladesh can gradually shift from their over-dependency on rice-centric diets and go for more nutritious options like vegetables, fruits, fish and dairy products.
IFPRI Country Representative Dr Akhter Ahmed along with experts representing its collaborative research organisations was addressing a press conference at a hotel in the capital yesterday.
Dr Akhter said Bangladesh needs to invest in non-rice crop research. Also, research has to be done to enhance the productions of animal protein so that consumers get a choice between rice and more nutritious alternatives.
He emphasised carrying out a research to understand why crop diversification is not taking place at a faster rate. He also stressed the need for policy interventions.
Dr Akhter called for developing cold chains for perishable non-rice products and spreading nutrition knowledge among people.
He said simple knowledge like not to drain out water while cooking rice and not to wash vegetables after peeling can make a big difference in helping people get healthier diets.
"If you wash vegetables after peeling and drain water while cooking rice, the water-soluble vitamins and nutrients would be drained out also," explained Akhter.
Dr Inge Brouwer, who teaches nutrition at the Netherlands' Wageningen University and Research, an IFPRI partner in multi-nation Agriculture for Nutrition and Health programme, identified a lack in dietary diversity as a challenge for Bangladesh.
DR Herbert Smorenburg, representative of Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, said each dollar invested in nutrition pays back a dividend of USD 16 through increased productivity and reduced health costs.