Food quality and safety still remains a distant cry

02 March 2021

BANGLADESH got one notch down in the Global Food Security Index of 2020. Overall it ranked 84th out of 113 countries of the world on the scale of affordability, availability, quality, safety, natural resources and resilience. Among the indices, Bangladesh scored lowest in quality and safety of food and did well in availability and affordability. Successive governments have invested tremendously for ensuring food security, while agriculture universities, research institutes, government field support conjointly with farmers boosted the production of all types of crops, non-crop products, poultry and dairy items over the years. However, bigger challenges remain in ensuring dietary diversity, safety, and quality of food.
In order to guarantee food security now and in the future, countries need to ensure that food is affordable, sufficiently available for their populations, and meets their dietary needs. Despite the progress achieved so far and availability of food due to increased production, 40 million people - one-quarter of the Bangladesh population - still remain food insecure, and 11 million suffer from acute hunger. The Covid pandemic also threatened food security.
To ensure food security farmers and agricultural workers should be included in the government's assistance packages and other social protection programmes that address the crisis. In the long run, we should focus on accelerating the mechanisation of agriculture and technology-based farming, value chain development and automation. During the pandemic we should promote direct marketing through online platforms to facilitate the trading by reducing food waste and mitigate loss of farmers' profits by reducing multiple layers of intermediaries.
The government has offered recovery packages worth more than a trillion taka to different sectors. More attention is required to be paid to the agriculture sector in order to ensure food security for all. Besides ensuring the availability of food, the government must promote dietary diversity, affordability and food safety by enabling farmers though training, stimulus package, free seed and fertiliser.

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