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Economists for adequate food stock PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 02 April 2008

Bangladesh should reintroduce its five-year development programme, build up an adequate stock of food and declare a proper food procurement policy to avert the present-like abnormal food prices in the future, economists told a programme in the city Monday, reports UNB.

They said poverty eradication and improving the lifestyle of the people would remain a far cry with the present Annual Development Programme (ADP) and donors-prescribed Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP).

"We''ve abandoned our five-year action plan and opted for one-year development programme being prescribed by the donor agencies and countries.

Bangladesh must look for five-year plan without delay if it really wants a stable economy and unhindered development," Prof Dr Atiur Rahman said. Dr Atiur, also the chairman of Shamunnay, was addressing the launching ceremony of Bangladesh Economic Outlook (Year 1, Issue 3 March 2008) at the Jatiya Press Club in the morning.

Young economist Selim Raihan presented the findings of his team''s research carried by the publication. Newly elected FBCCI president Annisul Huq also spoke on the occasion. Referring to the weak points of ADP, the research said many projects, which were undertaken during the reign of a particular government, either had their budgets slashed or were even totally abandoned when a new government was elected.

Bangladesh must consider devising and adhering to a development plan that covers a longer time horizon, the research said. Former caretaker government adviser Hafizuddin Khan who attended the ceremony as chief guest said a person might even not be able to chalk out a plan in one year for his own life.

"Then how is it possible to have a plan and implement it for a country of 14 crore people?" All the speakers laid emphasis on building up a food stock after an estimate what can be the demand of the growing population of Bangladesh in the next 10-20 years. "In 2000 when the then government completed its term there was no food shortage or price hike of food in Bangladesh.

Then-Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury had been able to create a food stock of 16 lakh tons of rice against the total demand of 10 lakh tons," Atiur Rahman recalled. "But after that Bangladesh could not maintain the practice of stocking food. Now a large portion of the population finds it almost impossible to buy rice they require.

A sort of silent famine is now prevailing in the country," he said. About the effectiveness of having a food stock, former adviser Hafizuddin Khan said, "During our caretaker government, Bangladesh''s development partners had forced us to reduce food stock, although food stock always has a positive impact on price hike."

"Now where are those development partners who had forced this country not to stock food when Bangladesh is suffering from food crisis and price hike of essentials? Has America or the World Bank said that they are ready to provide Bangladesh with rice?" Atiur Rahman said Bangladesh should finalise its food procurement law immediately.

"How much rice will be collected in the coming Boro season, what price the farmers will be given, how many godown will be needed, everything should be fixed now." The experts found Bangladesh is facing the current food crisis and intolerable price hike due to a mismatch between demand and supply of food. "Government''s estimates on total food demand of the country falls 23 lakh tons short than ours.

I suggest the government to form a high-profile taskforce which will be able to estimate the real demand of food in the country," Dr Atiur said. About the necessary steps to reduce the current record high rice price, Dr Atiur said now Bangladesh should manage India, by any means, to collect the rest 4 lakh tons of rice.

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