Increased restrictions on international migration by the host countries may exacerbate food security in high-migrant source countries like Bangladesh, an international food policy think tank alerted yesterday.
The think tank -- International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) -- launched its flagship annual publication, 2018 Global Food Policy Report, at a hotel in the capital.
The report said, “Rise of isolationism and protectionism, visible in the US withdrawal from multilateral trade and climate agreements, the UK's 'Brexit' from the EU, and growing anti-immigration rhetoric in developed countries threatens to slow progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals and improved food security and nutrition.”
At the report launching event, Akhter Ahmed, IFPRI country representative for Bangladesh, said, “Foreign remittances from migrant Bangladeshi workers play a key role in the domestic economy and help ensure food security for migrant source families. Any drastic changes in international migration policies in host countries with large Bangladeshi population may pose a challenge to food security of those families.”
The Washington-based think tank surveyed over 1,000 individuals in 105 countries to know public perception about food security and globalisation. Seventy six percent of them said tighter borders and migration restrictions will impact food security.
Sixty-six percent of the respondents think recent antiglobalisation policies and rhetoric will harm the hungry and impoverished. Of the respondents, 72 percent are dissatisfied with food policies in their own regions while 55 percent are dissatisfied with global food policies.
“Enacting policies to leverage the benefits of globalisation while minimising the risks that fuel antiglobalisation will be critical to meet the Sustainable Development Goals to end hunger and poverty by 2030,” said Shenggen Fan, director general of IFPRI.
Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and Prime Minister's Economic Affairs Adviser Dr Mashiur Rahman addressed the programme as the chief and special guests.
The discussion panelists included former caretaker government adviser Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman; CPD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun; Krishi Gobeshona Foundation Executive Director Dr Wais Kabir; and BIDS senior research fellow Dr Nazneen Ahmed.
Emeritus Professor Dr MA Sattar Mandal chaired the session.
In this year's report, IFPRI stated that food systems in South Asia are at a crossroads and climate change is the most pressing issue the region is facing.
To cite a few examples, IFPRI referred to heavy floods in Bangladesh that damaged crops, including the country's main food staple, rice.
It stated that better intraregional linkages and increased intraregional trade will help the region (South Asia) grow.
IFPRI report also observed that Bangladesh has achieved one of the fastest and most prolonged reductions in child stunting.
It further said, “Through the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Gender Linkages (ANGeL) research project, the country aims to identify actions and investments in agriculture that will help improve nutrition and empower women.”
The report stated that Bangladesh is revamping its Public Food Distribution System; instituting a nationwide electronic system for monitoring public food grain stocks; and implementing the World Bank-financed Modern Food Storage Facilities Project, which will construct eight modern steel grain-storage silos for rice and wheat, and 5 lakh silos for households in disaster-prone areas.