Climate-smart farming can help tackle food security challenges

Open trade reduces hunger, poverty: IFPRI

| Updated: May 05, 2018 16:08:01

Climate-smart farming can help tackle food security challenges

Experts at a programme Thursday stressed the need for following open trade policies and focusing more on climate-smart agriculture to address the food security challenges.

They criticised the dual policy of the preachers of globalisation.

Food sufficiency does not necessarily ensure availability, which can trigger food insecurity, they said.

They also urged the policymakers to address the poor nutritional status of women involved in agriculture.

The observations came at the launch of 'Global Food Policy Report 2018' of the think-tank International Food Policy Research Institute at a hotel in Dhaka.

Speaker of Jatiya Sangsad Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury was present as the chief guest while Economic Affairs Adviser to the prime minister Mashiur Rahman was the special guest. The panelists included former caretaker government adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman, CPD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun, Krishi Gobeshana Foundation Executive Director Wais Kabir and BIDS Senior Research Fellow Nazneen Ahmed. Emeritus Professor Dr M A Sattar Mandal chaired the session.

In the latest report, it was found that some 66 per cent of the respondents think the recent anti-globalisation policies and rhetoric will harm the hungry and impoverished.

An overwhelming 72 per cent are dissatisfied with food policies in their own regions while 55 per cent are dissatisfied with global food policies.

"Policies that encouraged globalisation through more open trade, migration, and knowledge-sharing have been critical to recent unprecedented reductions in hunger and poverty," said Shenggen Fan, Director-General of the IFPRI.

"Enacting policies to leverage the benefits of globalisation while minimising the risks that fuel anti-globalisation force will be critical to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals to end hunger and poverty by 2030," said the IFPRI boss.

In his remarks, Hossain Zillur said anti-globalisation was not the only concern rather there are multiple issues like the attitude of people in case of migration and the issue of poverty.

He suggested keeping the pace with the changing reality of poverty when discussing food security issues.

There are four groups of people who should be considered while formulating food policies. They are-general poor who are vulnerable to price shocks, people who are below the extreme poverty line but are statistically invisible, suffering from marginalisation and exclusion, urban poor and refugees.

Fahmida Khatun said globalisation is not without challenges and there are institutions like the World Trade Organisations, which has been promoting this, although many policy decisions are not implemented decided in the global forums.

Although the WTO has been advocating for the removal of agricultural subsidies, many developed countries have not implemented it, she said, adding that it makes the global agricultural market volatile.

"Many developed countries have not withdrawn subsidies from the fisheries sector, but we are asked to remove subsidies despite knowing the fact that fisheries is the only livelihood for many marginalsied families," she said.

Criticising the domestic policies, she said the super shops are stacked with imported rice and fish although Bangladesh is rich in both. But the quality of fish is in question. An influential political group is behind the import who lobbies and influence policy decisions in favour of them, she added.

She noted that despite being involved in various types of agricultural activities, women's nutrition status is quite low due to the lower access to property.

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