Inconsistent prices and high perishability of non-rice crops force farmers to depend on rice cultivation, which causes low agricultural and dietary diversity, said a recent study.
The low diversities create barriers to ensure proper nutrition and resist children's birth related complexities, like stunting and low birth weight, said the study revealed at a seminar organised by the agriculture ministry at Sech Bhaban in the capital.
Though rice gives relatively low value outputs, farmers depend on the crop as they feel safe to cultivate it instead of non-rice crops, such as fruits and vegetables, the study said.
Agriculture, Nutrition, and Gender Linkages (ANGeL), a project of the agriculture ministry funded by USAID and designed by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), conducted the study between November 2015 to January 2016 at 3,125 farm households in the country's 16 districts in the beginning of the project.
The study suggested promotion of agricultural diversification beyond rice and cereal crops through more investment and motivating the farmers.
To motivate the farmers and promote diversity, the government need to ensure good pricing for non-rice crops and improve transportation and the packaging system, said Akhter Ahmed, country representative of IFPRI, who presented the study outcomes at the seminar.
According to the survey, 95.7 percent of farmers in the sample area cultivate rice, while 53.8 percent cultivate rice as their only crop.
Besides, each person of the households gets about 67.1 percent of their consumed calories from rice as they eat around 375 grams of rice pre day, which is the highest of their consumed food, said the study.
Speaking as chief guest, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury said the government is working on preventing children's birth related complexities and ensuring nutrition for people.
She also said the findings would be compared with the end-line survey to assess and identify appropriate initiatives to achieve dietary diversity.