Agriculture Minister Dr Md Abdur Razzaque on Monday said the country is doing relatively well in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) because of increased food production, reports UNB.
“At the moment our poverty rate stands at only 21.8 percent…We are doing alright in GHI because of increased (food) production and productivity,” he said.
He made the remarks at the launch event of the GHI 2019 arranged by three international NGOs -Welthungerhilfe, Concern Worldwide and Helvetas Bangladesh- at Cirdap auditorium in the capital.
According to GHI 2019, Bangladesh is ranked 88th among 117 countries with a score of 25.8 out of 100 indicating a ‘serious’ hunger in the country. Among the neighbouring countries, that puts Bangladesh ahead of India at 102nd with a score of 30.3 and Pakistan at 94th scoring 28.5, but behind Nepal at 73rd scoring 20.8, Myanmar at 69th scoring 19.1 and Sri Lanka at 66th scoring 17.1.
Bangladesh was ranked 86th out of 119 countries in the GHI for 2018, despite a poorer score of 26.1.
The GHI is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at the global, regional, and national levels by calculating four factors for each country --- undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality. According to 100-point GHI Severity Scale, scoring less than 9.9 means low hunger; 10.0–19.9 score indicates moderate hunger; 20.0–34.9 score indicates serious hunger; 35.0–49.9 score is alarming and scoring over 50 is extremely alarming hunger situation.
The minister noted that food security has always been a concern for every government since 1947 but now the country grows ample amount of rice, the staple food.
“Only in the year 2000, Bangladesh was for the first time close to self-sufficiency under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina…Not only we are self-sufficient in rice production, we have surplus amount of rice,” he said.
He also mentioned about gaining self-sufficiency in supplementary crops like potato and maize.
“We now have four million tons of potatoes as surplus yield…within the next 2-3 years we shall have surplus production of maize,” said the minister.
He highlighted that despite such progress, low per capita income is a key reason for undernourishment.
“Per capita income of our people is $2000 only and they cannot afford a lot of nutritious food,” he said.
He mentioned that after attaining self-sufficiency in food, government’s new challenge is providing safe and nutritious food to people.
“The government is committed to ensuring safe and nutritious food for all. The government will do so at any cost. All the facilities of the cities will be taken to the villages. Safe and nutritious food will be ensured by creating employment through agricultural mechanization,” he said.
Welthungerhilfe Country Representative Philippe Dresruesse, Concern Worldwide Bangladesh Country Director AKM Musha and Bangladesh National Nutrition Council Director General Dr Md Shah Newaz also spoke at the programme.