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Enhance food security

Alaul Alam, Guest Writer |
Update: 2022-10-24 19:30:54
Enhance food security

Food security is a challenging issue in the present world. It means having both physical and economic access of an individual to meet dietary needs for a productive and healthy life at all times. However, food security of a country does not always guarantee that all its people will enjoy the availability of food.  

Without a balance between the availability of foods in the market and the purchasing ability of people it is tough to ensure food security for all. Attaining food security is a sustainable process that may face disruption when despite abundance of foods market manipulation and syndicate business cause artificial crisis. 

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)-2 aims at ensuring sustainable solutions to end hunger in all its forms by 2030. It is a united effort of the global community to ensure hunger free world. In this connection, individual countries are implementing many initiatives to achieve food security for their people. 

They are not only prioritizing enough food production but also working to ensure quality food for all. It is true that in food productivity many countries have set examples but the question is pertinent to raise; how can we meet the sustainable development goal 2 when people of many parts of the world do not have regular access to food?

The global sources claim that over the last three decades the world has seen some progress in combating hunger. The report estimates that the proportion of the undernourished people was 15 per cent in 2000-2002 while in 2014-2015 it declined to 11 per cent. 

However, more than 750 million people in the world still struggle to have adequate food for themselves. Again, we see that hunger crisis deepens many times when countries undergo natural and man-made disasters. Political instability, war, conflicts and international tension deepen food insecurity.

Sources say that food insecurity is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. More than half of the adult population undergo moderate or severe levels of food insecurity. On top of that, a great proportion of people in the South Asian regions face moderate or severe food insecurity. 

Undeniably, Bangladesh is fortunate one in the South Asian regions. Over the last five decades the country has seen remarkable advancement in every sector. The achievements of the country in the field of agriculture are really worth noticing. Thanks to our honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her prudent policies which cover greater investment in modernizing agriculture for increased food production. 

The cultivable land of the country has decreased to an extent over the years. To accommodate the increased number of people houses are being built using cultivable land. But despite the loss of cultivable land the country’s crop production has increased manifolds. 

The use of technology and scientific knowledge has brought revolution in the field of agriculture. Many educated youths are found to get involved in farming. The application of their knowledge and skills in agriculture is creating more possibilities. Apart from creating employment opportunities, agriculture has set a great example of self-employment for the educated youths. Obviously, the present government spearheaded by the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is working relentlessly to open up maximum potentials from the agriculture sector. They are implementing many initiatives for sustainable food productivity to end up hunger by 2030. 

To ensure food security for the poor and ultra-poor the government runs a number of food safety net programs. A great portion of budget is allocated every year to strengthen social safety net programs. Apart from feeding and creating employment schemes for the vulnerable group, the government is providing them loans on easy terms and tax rebate facilities to ensure inclusive food security. Countless schemes are ongoing to change the fortune of the farmers. Undeniably, to alleviate hunger by 2030 the country’s agriculture has the pivotal role to play. 

We see a remarkable progress as the country has been able to provide food to 168 million people with domestic agricultural production. The proportion of undernourished people has decreased from 16 per cent in 2000 to 9.7 per cent in 2019. The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics and UNICEF revealed that the chronic malnutrition which was estimated to 42 per cent in 2013 decreased to 28 per cent in 2019. 

However, according to the Global Food Security Index-2019, the country stood at 83rd position out of 113 countries. The report also claimed that in attaining food security the ranking of the country was the lowest among the South Asian countries. But it is noted that in case of food availability and affordability the country’s scores is quite good. Providing quality and safe foods for people is still a challenge in the country. 

The Covid-19 and the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has deepened the global food insecurity. Bangladesh is not the exception to this issue. As the country has to import many products, the price hike in international market has affected the commoners in the country. Instability in the kitchen market has been an everyday phenomenon.

The price of all the necessities are going up every day. The business syndicates are taking every opportunity and hiking price of the essentials in the name of global price hike. Even there are many necessities which are grown abundantly in the country and available in the market but people do not have any scope but purchase with abnormally high price due to market manipulation of the business syndicates. 

So, food productivity and food availability hardly guarantee the people of the country for food security as many have lost purchasing ability of the necessities. A survey report conducted by the World Food Program published in October 2022 has revealed that nearly 68 per cent of Bangladeshi people struggle to afford food in the recent days. 

According to the Global Hunger Index (GHI) report jointly published by the Ireland-based organization Concern Worldwide and Germany-based Welt Hunger Hilfe, hunger tackling ability of the country has dropped by eights. Its position went down from 76th to 84th out of 121countries. Many worry that food security system may be disrupted unless we are aware enough of this. Again, our commitment to end up hunger by 2030 may be hard to be achieved.  

Our prudent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has reiterated that the people in the country must use every inch of land for growing food. She has emphasized that people can avert a famine by the practice of savings and austerity. To take preparation to tackle the forecasted famine in 2023 the government is working to increase imports and production of food grain amid the global food supply crisis caused by the Russia-Ukraine war. 

To enhance food security there is no alternative to promoting sustainable agriculture. Apart from prioritizing productivity it is time to ensure equal access of people to food and nutrition. To strengthen over all food security subsidizing on food from the government should be increased. All types of syndicate business and market manipulation should be tackled with an iron hand. To this end, let’s enhance food security to protect the humanity.

Writer: Alaul Alam teaches at Prime University. He is also a research scholar at the IBS. Email: [email protected]

BDST: 1930 HRS, OCT 23, 2022

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