The World Bank (WB) has approved USD 500 million to improve livestock and dairy production in Bangladesh so that the country can meet growing demand for egg, meat and milk to improve the nutritional intake of its citizens.
The Livestock and Dairy Development Project will improve agricultural productivity and market access of two million smallholder household farmers and small and medium-scale agro-entreprenuers, said the Washington-based lending agency on Sunday.
By stimulating growth and improving livestock production systems, livestock farmers in Bangladesh will have better access to livestock services and practices, it said.
"By increasing livestock productivity, Bangladesh will be better able to meet the food demands of its population," said Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.
"Livestock development also has the potential to create more and better jobs for women, youth, and the vulnerable in rural areas."
The livestock sector employs 14 percent of the total labor force, but more than 70 percent of rural households are engaged in livestock production.
Currently 68 percent of the agricultural labor force are women and they are mainly involved in livestock and poultry production.
"Climate change impacts on livestock production threaten to hamper the development of livestock," said Manievel Sene, World Bank Team Leader for the Livestock and Dairy Development Project.
"Rural households' livestock assets are highly exposed to risks, including loss of livestock, associated with natural events and major disease outbreaks. Mitigating risks by creating an enabling environment for livestock insurance will reduce the vulnerability of smallholder farmers as well as enhance productivity."
Production in cattle and milk, meat, and poultry meat and eggs are not meeting consumption growth, resulting in rising shortages: it is anticipated that by 2021, there will be annual shortages of 1.5 billion eggs, 0.5 million tons of meat, and more than 5.9 million tons of milk.
In 2015-2016, imports of dairy reached USD 248.8 million.
Young children, pregnant women and new mothers are particularly vulnerable to nutritional shortfalls.
The project aims to provide at least two million people with food safety information through training, mobile applications, and other multimedia tools.
The credit from the World Bank's International Development Association, which provides grants or zero-interest loans, has a 30-year term, including a five-year grace period.