Call for regional food security
Sunday, 13 July 2008

Attention to land, agriculture is the option

Dhaka has stressed adequate regional food security in the just-concluded D-8 summit and BIMSTEC meeting. With food shortages looming large due to diversion of crop-lands to bio-fuel, it was quite proper for Bangladesh to appeal for regional approach to tackling food shortages in all the developing countries grouped under D-8 and BIMSTEC. To be honest, we never had any food security. A large part of our population lives on morsels. They suffer from malnutrition and eventually migrate to the unproductive section of our manpower. We do not have any organization, like the Food Corporation of India, which maintains supply of essential items for at least a six-month period. The Food Ministry buys rice and wheat if and when there is a shortfall.  This brings us to the basic question of how we ourselves can do to ensure food security for our 150 million people. Unfortunately, agriculture has never received the attention it deserves in an overwhelmingly poor country. Sometime back, we emphasized the urgency of land reforms. Necessary land reforms and more attention to agriculture are the only ways that can ensure food security. Industry, manufacturing and service sectors' contribution to the GDP becomes meaningless when the country suffers from food shortage. Agriculture should have been the biggest contributor to our GDP.  The issue is how to ensure maximum possible agricultural production. It may not be possible to meet the requirements fully but at least this should be given a try. It is insulting to beg for food every time there is a shortage or a natural calamity. Our basic issues never received necessary attention. But with the world and climate changing, it is high time we changed our mindset and concentrate on how people can avoid going hungry..

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