No scarcity of food in the country at the moment, says Abdur Razzak
Collusion by a syndicate of traders is behind the unprecedented price hike of broiler chicken in the country in recent times, Agriculture Minister Dr Mohammad Abdur Razzaque has said.
He added that there was no scarcity of food in the country at the moment.
The minister made the remarks during a press briefing organized Friday ahead of World food day 2021 on Saturday.
According to government officials, the price for chicken has gone up almost 36% in the recent past.
On a visit to the local market on Friday, Dhaka Tribune found that chicken was being sold for Tk180-190/kg, as compared to just Tk120/kg a month or so ago.
Retailers were selling broiler chicken at Tk170-180/kg on Thursday.
Abdur Razzaque said it was only natural for the price of a product to go up if the demand is high, but it was unusual how the prices of some essentials were not dropping despite significant effort.
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“Even after thousands of attempts, the price cannot be reduced. The price of food can be increased in many ways. Syndication by the traders behind the sudden rise of broiler chicken,” he added.
“The country is no longer in a food crisis. Food production has increased during the pandemic,” he said.
The agriculture minister said the population of the country is witnessing a growth of 2.4 million every year, but land area is not increasing. “Rather, the size of cultivable land is decreasing. This population overload is leading to the onion price hike every year.”
Taking the situation into account, the government is trying to make the country self-reliant in onion production. Bangladesh is now the third largest producer of onions in the world, after the US, he said.
“The country has increased the production of onion to 700,000 tons this year alone to reach its target to be self-reliant,” he said.
Besides, the total production of Boro rice this year was higher than 20 million tons, which is a record for the country. Compared to last year, the production of all crops has increased this year, the minister added.
According to the minister, the total production stands at 38.6 million ton of rice, 1.2 million tons of wheat, around 5.7 million tons of maize, 10.6 million tons of potatoes, 19.7 million tons of vegetables, 1.2 million tons of oil crop and 900,000 tons of pulses.
He said the consumption of protein and other foods have increased due to the increase in population.
The minister said: “Bangladesh is currently able to produce 602g rice, 65g fish and 126g meat for each person daily. The country is also producing 104 eggs for each person yearly.
"We are not saying whether Bangladesh is self-sufficient in food, but food production is increasing in our country. So, people at least have their food," he said.
Asked about the higher price of beef, the minister urged everyone to be patient.
“We have self-sufficiency in red meat production. However, before making it available it has to be profitable for the farmers as well. People have to understand that beef meat is one of the most expensive foods in the USA as well,” he added.
The price of the products differs depending on the international market as well. The government will monitor the situation, he further said.