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Food Minister rules out any possibility of food crisis

Bangladesh will have 2.0 million tonnes of rice in stock by the end of October, says Sadhan Chandra Majumder

October 29, 2022 00:00:00

Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder says that the country has enough food in stock, and he sees no chance of food crisis unless natural disasters hit the country out of the blue, reports UNB.

In a recent interview with UNB, the minister, who is a three-time MP from Naogaon-1, says that his ministry is taking steps so that no land in the country remains uncultivated.

"Boro season is coming soon after the current Aman season. We'll take steps so that Boro is cultivated on all the cultivable land. We've already asked the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure proper irrigation during the upcoming Boro season," Sadhan says.

The minister says that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked all the MPs to stay careful in their constituencies so that farmers cultivate their land for maximum production in the upcoming harvest season.

To avoid any crisis, he says, they are encouraging farmers to increase their production.

"Numerous crops are cultivated in our fertile land. We get Aman, Aush and Boro. Although a drought-like situation prevailed this year because of less or no rain, later precipitation in July-August finally helped us reach our rice production target. There are some crops, which were delayed to plant, so there may be a shortage of them. Overall, we have remained very careful to prevent any kind of food crisis," Sadhan says.

About how much food the country currently has in stock, Sadhan says that there is enough food stock to feed everyone.

"At present, we've 1.7 million (17 lakh) tonnes of rice in stock. Another 5.3 lakh tonnes of rice are in the pipeline. Besides, a ship carrying 30,000 tonnes of rice from Myanmar will enter Bangladesh soon. In total, we'll have 2.0 million tonnes of rice in stock by the end of October," Sadhan says.

He says that the government has the capacity to meet the country's food demand.

"The food that the government has in stock is spent on various government programmes, including Open Market Sale (OMS), test relief (TR) and food for work schemes (Kabikha). We'll import food if this stock runs out," Sadhan says adding that usually a stock of 1.0-1.2 million (10 to 12 lakh) tonnes of rice is adequate.

"But we already have more," he says.

He says Bangladesh usually imports from India, but now steps have been taken to import from Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand.

"We've obtained clearance from Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar.

We have offers from Cambodia to import rice from there. We're looking for more sources for rice import. We'll be able to tackle any crisis by importing food from these countries if a food crisis looms," Sadhan says.

The minister says that importers have been allowed to import rice privately by paying only 5 percent to the government exchequer. A government order will remain effective till December regarding this opportunity.

"We'll extend this Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) if we see that the farmers are getting fair prices for their crops," Sadhan says.

About the current electricity crisis that may hamper irrigation during the next Boro season, Sadhan says that the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for this job.

"Irrigation during the upcoming Boro season will be hampered without constant supply of electricity. However, I believe the Agriculture Ministry will take necessary steps to deal with power outages during the upcoming season," Sadhan says.

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