It is the distribution of food that continues to be the real challenge
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has countries around the world scrambling all over to ensure even the most basic of necessities for its people, the issue of food security is the one front and centre on people’s minds.
To that end, it is extremely encouraging to see many experts in Bangladesh -- be they economists from renowned think-tanks or ministers, secretaries, or other senior civil servants -- reiterate that Bangladesh should not see a shortage of food due to the effects of the coronavirus.
Indeed, Bangladesh appears to have an impressive stock of essential food grains and items such as rice, wheat, and potatoes while production of vegetables has also been above the national demand.
The Bangladesh government is also firmly behind the agriculture sector, and the recently-proposed Tk5,000 crore incentive package, along with further help to buy seeds and mechanize the sector for greater efficiency, are testament to this commitment.
However, while food production and availability does not seem to be an issue for Bangladesh, it is rather the distribution of this food that continues to be the real challenge.
It has already been established that the pandemic has been particularly hard on our informal sector, and as per reports and surveys conducted by the likes of Brac, people are in an extremely dire state, with a significant number not getting access to adequate food supplies.
The government has made plans to distribute food amongst the poor, along with selling food grains at a subsidized price, which is commendable.
But unless there is a concrete plan addressing those that have lost their livelihood in the informal sector, and this plan executed efficiently, people will continue to go hungry.
It will be a matter of shame and sorrow if, in spite of producing more than enough food to feed the entire population, this food fails to reach the most vulnerable among us.