Move to set up food bank

Rice import gets PMO nod

An emergency 'food bank' is being set up to ensure food security and to stockpile food for at least two years to tackle coronavirus situation and to meet contingencies.

The global survey of the food system shows Bangladesh's overall performance good, with a score of 53.2 out of 100. In the two core pillars of the index - food affordability and availability - Bangladesh did well with scores of 60.4 and 54.8 respectively.

However, the Prime Minister's Office has also given nod to the Ministry of Food to import rice in case of emergency to increase the stocks, sources said.

Before importing rice in case of emergency, the ministry wanted to know the actual position of food-grains in stock in districts. Letters have been sent to all the deputy commissioners asking for providing detailed information.

It is learnt that the target for Aus (winter crops) and Aman paddy has been set at 36 lakh tonnes and 1.55 crore tonnes respectively this season. The government, in the meantime, has distributed incentives to compensate for the crop damages caused by the recent floods.

Officials are assuring that there will be no food shortage in the country if everything goes well, including building food stocks. 

In the current financial year, the quantity of food grain production totals to about 12.47 percent more than the 4.01 crore metric tonnes produced last year.

Bangladesh's farming community always successfully produced a record quantity of food-grains in response to the demand of food.

According to a notification of the Ministry of Food, 8 lakh metric tonnes of Boro paddy, 1 million metric tons of Boro boiled rice and 1.5 lakh metric tonnes of Boro sum-dried rice are to be procured this year.

It is learnt that the government has taken steps to increase the storage capacity of food-grains to accommodate 5 lakh 35 thousand 500 metric tonnes in collaboration with the World Bank.

According to the sources, Aus paddy has been planted in 13 lakh 36 thousand 566 hectares of land this season. The production target has been set at 36 lakh 44 thousand 800 tonnes.

In the coming Aman season, the area of cultivable land will be increased from 5 lakh hectares to 63 lakh hectares and it is expected to produce 175 lakh tonnes of rice.

The Ministry of Agriculture has undertaken an incentive programme worth Tk 93 crore to compensate the flood affected farmers this year. This will increase agricultural production.

Already, seeds have been distributed free among the affected farmers under the agricultural rehabilitation program worth Tk 17.54 crore. Another incentive program worth Tk 75 crore is in process.

Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder recently said, "Safe and secure food management bears the identity of a developed country. The government is working relentlessly for building up balanced, safe and secure food management in the country."

The food minister said the quantity of collected food grains is enough for the government reserves. New plans are taken. If the plans are implemented, the country's food management will be a role model for the world in future.

“The country is not facing any food scarcity amid natural disaster like floods and coronavirus pandemic thanks to proper decision and prudence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” the minister said.

Responding to a question regarding rice import, he said, “We’re examining the reserves of rice across the country. If necessary, rice will be imported to keep the market price stable.”