Experts at a seminar on Wednesday called for more investment in food safety to ensure food security as well as rural development.
They also demanded taking necessary initiatives for amending the Food Safety Act 2013 to prevent food adulteration.
Bangladesh Safe Agro Food Efforts (BSAFE) Foundation, KHANI Food Security Network, Brot fur die welt and Unnayan Dhara jointly organised the seminar on investment in food safety system for food security and rural development at the Jatiya Press Club in the city marking the World Food Day.
The other demands include passage of the ‘Food Security Act 2016’ drafted by the Law Commission and taking steps to implement the law, investing more in agricultural research sector for increasing the initiatives of organic farming research, establishing a government standard control research institute like BSTI to control the quality of food and providing subsidy for ensuring the availability of environment-friendly agricultural tools, climate-tolerant agricultural technology or organic fertiliser and taking proper steps so that real farmers can get the subsidy.
In his keynote paper, Unnayan Dhara Executive Director Shahidul Islam said though Bangladesh has achieved food autarky, ensuring safe and nutritious food which is prerequisite for food security is still a great challenge.
“At present, around 43 lakh tonnes of chemical fertiliser and 48,000 tonnes of chemical pesticides are being used in food production which is poisoning the food,” he said.
Besides, different types of pesticides are being mixed with the food in different stages of food storage, processing, packaging, marketing and distribution, he added.
Citing the study of a United Nations report published in 2017, Shahidul said country’s 15.1 percent people are suffering from malnutrition and 39.9 percent women are suffering from anaemia.
Some 36.1 percent children under five are suffering from dwarfism while 7.6 percent children of the same age group and 3 percent boys and girls aged over 18 years are suffering from obesity, he said.
Interestingly, country’s farmers suffer from most food and nutrition insecurity although Bangladesh is an agricultural country, said Shahidul Islam.
Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said for ensuring food security, investment in food safety system is very important.
He said the authorities concerned will have to come forward for proper implementation of the Food Safety Act 2013.
At present, the main challenge is to increase the food production and ensure the food nutrition, he added.
Prof Latiful Bari, Nazrul Islam of Dhaka University and Dr Monowar Hossain, among others, spoke at the programme held with BSAFE Foundation President and agricultural scientist Dr Mohammed Zainul Abedin in the chair.