The government has been urged to take necessary steps for enforcing law, without any discrimination or political considerations, to prevent food poisoning or adulteration.
Non-profit organization Poribesh Bachao Andolon (Poba) made the urgency at a seminar, held at the Maulana Mohammad Akram Khan Hall of the National Press Club on the occasion of the World Food Day on Saturday.
Considering the public health issues, Poba has made 11 points recommendations as well saying agricultural products will emerge as the most promising export sector after the ready-made garment industry, if the government properly monitors the issue.
Speaking at the seminar, Bangladesh Resource Center for Indigenous Knowledge (BARCIK) Coordinator Zahangir Alam said, “Bangladesh is a small and disaster-prone country but it is now ahead of other countries in rice, fish and vegetable production. According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), exports of agricultural products from Bangladesh have almost doubled in the last four years”, he said.
He mentioned, the export of agricultural products from Bangladesh was only 550 million dollar in the 2016-17 fiscal year but it got to 1030 million in 2020-21.
"It is a matter of regret that we are facing different obstacles in international trade due to the inability to produce products by ensuring phytosanitary (plant health) certification and good agriculture practice (gap) in world-class agricultural products," he added.
Laying emphasis on phytosanitary certifications, he said it was not possible to export potato to Russia despite the huge potential. “Not meeting phytosanitary conditions of Fiji experts recently, we could not make a trade with them. It is essential to test the toxicity of pesticide remains in the agricultural products produced”, he added.
The other recommendations of Poba are:
1. Through mobile courts, continuation to penalize the sellers of adulterated food and those involved in the mixing of chemicals in food
2. Strict implementation of Consumer Protection Act-2009, Safe Food Act-2013, Formalin Control Act-2015 and provide exemplary punishment to the perpetrators
3. To ensure poison and adulteration free food, the government should strictly inspect every sphere, from the source of food poisoning and adulterated mixture to the retailer level.
4. To take legal action against importers and users of government banned chemicals and sellers of pesticides without labels or under false labels
5. To enact timely pesticide control laws
6. To make the farmers, producers, traders and consumers aware about the harmful aspects of chemicals, pesticides, adulterated mixtures and the penaltiesthrough mass media
7. Testing of various chemicals at ports through NBR at the import stage
8. Strengthen the market monitoring system to control food adulteration and enforce the law properly
9. Introduction and popularization of organic farming system in the country to get rid of the danger of poisonous food
10. The food quality control lab, set up by the Department of Agricultural Extension in 2019, to be launched soon for farmers
Poba Chairman Abu Naser Khan, General Secretary Engineer Abdus Sobahan, Director of BARCIK Syed Ali Biswas were also present at the seminar among others.