As many as 65.71 per cent people in the country have seen a sharp income drop while some 37.14 per cent had to take loans from different sources to meet their daily needs in the pandemic, said a new study.
At the edge of overcoming the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic impact, the country entered the second wave which forced the government to impose a lockdown to control the spread of corona.
Meanwhile, the pandemic impact and lockdown resulted in income drop among the poor and low-income people of the country. Besides, hikes in daily necessities and commodities have put an additional pressure on people in the pandemic, the study said.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi was the chief guest at the webinar in which the study titled 'Rising Commodity Prices and Impact on Food Consumption' was unveiled conducted by the 'Right to Food Bangladesh'.
While presenting the results of the survey, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) Senior Research Fellow Nazneen Ahmed said inflation in rice, flour, oil, and vegetables have been higher than before since January '21, whereas there was a slight improvement in October last year.
The families surveyed in the study said they were struggling to get three meals a day in the pandemic while their intake of animal meat has decreased. About 65.61 per cent of the people surveyed faced an income drop, and 37.14 per cent people are meeting their daily needs including food by taking loans from various sources.
These low-income people need urgent government support to ensure their food safety and security.
She mentioned that currently syndicates are not seen in the rice market but the government authorised rice millers store plays a grim role in destabilising the rice market by storing vast amounts of rice which could be more serious in the future, she mentioned.
The study, however, recommended to ensure food security for all, increase rice sales in the open market, increase TCB sales capacity, avoid the tendency of solvent people to buy and store goods out of fear of different situations and grocery stores need to be monitored regularly at the local level.
Agreeing to the recommendations forwarded by the rights body, the commerce minister said, “Now we are going through an unusual time. People's incomes have declined while the price hike of food items and commodities put additional woe to people in the pandemic.”
We have taken an initiative to sell food items in the open market through TCB to address the situation. There is also a price hike in the global market, certainly on the prices of oil, sugar, onion and other commodities, the minister added.
We, the ministry of food, agriculture and commerce, are working to address the situation and regularly monitor markets, but we don’t have sufficient manpower, only 27 teams are working to extend the TCB service.
Prof Sayema Haque Bidisha of Dhaka University said people who are at risk of poverty in the pandemic situation are also at risk of food security due to commodity price hike.
There is absence of a long-term plan and activities to control the price hike in the market from the government end; thus she recommended for a commission to control the commodity price hike.