Call to ensure food security in S Asia | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 27, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 27, 2010

Call to ensure food security in S Asia

Food Minister Abdur Razzaque yesterday underscored the need for toning up regional cooperation to enhance food production and ensure food security in South Asia.
“Most of the countries of this region are trailing far behind the required amount, forcing millions of people suffer from malnutrition. Over 36 percent of the total malnourished population of the globe live in this region. That is why regional cooperation is very essential to increase food production here,” he said.
The minister was speaking as the chief guest at a seminar titled "Expectation of Hungry People and SARRC Food Bank" at the Jatiya Press Club, just the day before the 4th meeting of board of governors of the SARRC Food Bank in Dhaka.
Pointing at the dearth of investment in agriculture sector, the minister said it is impossible to boost food production without ample investment in this sector. “For the last few years, a total of 22 billion metric tonnes (MT) of food was produced globally. This amount can't be increased due to lack of investment.”
He informed that the Indian government has recently given a green signal to export 3 lakh MT of rice and 2 lakh MT of wheat to Bangladesh.
President of parliamentary standing committee on agriculture ministry, Shawkat Momen Shahjahan told the seminar that the government has taken a number of initiatives to encourage farmers to increase food production. This would help the country to achieve self-sufficiency in food by using domestic resources, he added.
Former agriculture minister and BNP standing committee member MK Anwar said the country loses one percent of total farmlands every year to industrialisation and urbanisation. To produce more food and fulfil the entire demand, it is imperative to provide maximum facilities to the farmers, observed the BNP leader.
Director of food department Elahi Dad Khan said his department distributes around 25 lakh MT of food ever year among the poor. Eighty percent of it is distributed through the government's safety net programmes.
Presenting the keynote paper, Dr Sohel Iqbal, research fellow of EquityBD, made some recommendations to address food crisis.
The recommendations include formation of an international court relating to rights to food, functioning of SARRC Food Bank, conducting more research on agriculture, protecting land fertility and development of agriculture technology.
EquityBD, Agriculture Reporters' Forum (ARF), Bangladesh Krishok Federation, South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication, Media Foundation for Trade and Development and Coastal Development Partnership jointly hosted the event.
EquityBD chief moderator Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, coordinator Mustafa Kamal Akanda, ARF president Ashraf Ali were present, among others, at the seminar.

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