The importance of food security for a country like Bangladesh does not need any explanation. A host of negative factors makes it a strong candidate for implementing a comprehensive food security investment plan at the earliest. The country with a huge population to feed is land-scare. It is vulnerable to frequent natural calamities. Its farm practices are in many cases primitive and the productivity rate is far below the potential. And, more importantly, the marketing of its agricultural commodities is highly inefficient and cannot ensure fair prices to the farming community. Besides, facilities for the storage, preservation and processing of farm products are highly inadequate.
The country's vulnerability to food grains-related shocks was again exposed in 2008 when domestic production of food grains suffered badly because of natural calamities, including the cyclone Sidr that had battered the coastal districts in the late 2007, and international food prices shot up abnormally because of short supply. Besides, the production of food grains means a lot to the Bangladesh economy. Any major shortfall in their production does not only push up the price levels but also contributes to the fall in the country's GDP growth rate. This fiscal the economic growth rate stands to be lower than the original projection mainly for lower than anticipated growth in crop sub-sectors, besides manufacturing.
There is no denying that country's food production record has been impressive since the eighties despite so many odds faced by the farmers. The area and production under both Aman and Boro rice crops have increased manifold and the country, in the event of good harvests in a year, almost reaches near self-sufficiency in food production. Besides natural calamities, the food production is, however, often exposed to man-made crises relating to fuel oils, fertilisers and power and the government is yet to find a permanent solution to these problems. Serious efforts are not still there to address the issue of continuous decline in the arable land. Studies have revealed that nearly 1.0 per cent of farmland is lost every year to housing and other infrastructural needs.
So, any investment plan for ensuring the country's long-term food security must address, among others, the issues mentioned above and should not be specific only to the food-related problems in some particular areas of the country. The plan should adequately deal with the issues relating to land management, efficient marketing of farm produces, timely availability of farm inputs at fair prices, storage and processing of agricultural products and large-scale introduction of modern farm practices and the latest technologies. Here, the goal should not be just getting a share of the G-8 fund meant for ensuring food security of some selected poor developing countries. Rather the government should also provide domestic public resources, in addition to the contributions made by the rich countries, in order to try its best to ensure long-term food security through a well-crafted investment plan.
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