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Name__Afsara Abed_____________ 20th Batch __________ Roll __RH-101_________

Bangladesh Studies/Final/Spring 2014/smj/21062014/Part A

Since independence, Bangladesh has progressed a lot in terms of food production, among other
things. A country which failed to feed its 70 million people in the early 1970s, forty years later it
is feeding 160 million, that too with reduced land resources. (Note: Cultivable land has reduced
with the increase of population that requires more shelter, more infrastructure and more industry.)
Despite such outstanding achievements in terms of food security (or food availability), the
issue of food safety has increasingly become a major public health and consumer right concern.
(Some often view this as a national security threat.) Like Bangladesh development paradox,
this phenomenon (what maybe called unsafe food security) too is quite paradoxical. This forces
us to ask ourselves the big question: so what? a question that we have tried to use as
frequently as possible in this course to challenge ourselves.
Now, answer the following questions by reflecting on the lessons that we have learnt in this
course, the facts that we have come across, the approaches that we have deployed to explore
knowledge, the skills that we have sharpened and the attitude that we have shaped:
how do you assess this scenario/paradox?
if youre in charge of solving this problem, what realistic action plan can you propose?

Part A

One of the fundamental rights of the citizens stipulated in the Bangladesh Constitution is food
security for all. Food security exists when all people, at all times, have access to sufficient, safe and
nutritious food to maintain healthy and productive lives. The key elements of food security are:
a) Availability of enough food from domestic production and/or imports to meet the demand,
b) Access of the food to all people at all times through enough incomes and affordable prices,
c) Proper hygiene and sanitary practices and safe water for utilization of food to have
optimum impact on health and nutrition, and
d) a regulatory framework in place and its proper implementation for controlling
contamination to ensure food safety.

The Bangladesh economy has made respectable progress in rice, tripping production from 11
million tonnes in 1971 to 33 million in 2012, owing to the fast adoption by farmers of higher
yielding crop varieties developed by scientists, supported by rapid expansion of irrigation
infrastructure through private investment in tube wells. However import of wheat, the secondary
staple food has recently crossed the three million tonnes mark. It appears that even if Bangladesh
achieves self-sufficiency in rice production or becomes a rice exporting country, the import of
wheat will continue. Notable progress has been achieved in the production of potatoes and
vegetables. The growth has been particularly impressive in the last decade. The growth in fish
production picked up pace in recent years (7 %) due to the expansion of pond aquaculture. (World
However, even when aggregate food supplies are adequate, a number of factors in Bangladesh
prevent poor households or individuals from accessing food. One factor contributing to low food
accessibility is that farmers may not have access to their own produce as well as land for own
cultivation. In Bangladesh, 70 percent of the people live in rural areas where Almost 60% of the
rural households are engaged in farming. But the landownership is unequally distributed, and so is
the access to food from self-production. Almost 30% of the households do not own any land and
another 30% own only up to half an acre. Such tiny landownership is insufficient to meet the food
needs of four to five-member households, forcing a large proportion of marginal farmers go the
market to access food. (FAO)
One of the factors is their income levels may be too low to purchase the necessary foods at
prevailing prices on the market. Income is one of the dominant determinants of access to food. The
income growth per year has accelerated since 1990, reaching 6.5 percent in recent years. (World
The acceleration in economic and agricultural growth has made a positive impact on the diversity of
food intake away from the rice and vegetable based diet in favor of quality food. It may be noted
that the per capita consumption of rice and wheat has been declining, while the consumption of

vegetables, fruits and fish and meat has been growing. The consumption of rice has declined by 1.4
kg per year in the rural areas and by 1.5 kg per year in the urban areas. During 2000 to 2010, the
consumption of meat has increased by one-third for rural areas and by 40% in urban areas. (FAO)
One may conclude that Bangladesh has made immense progress when it comes to food security.
However, the success in improving food security has a big price tag attached to it: loss in food
safety. The quantity of food production is more than par but the question now arises, is the quality
of the same standard or at least has it kept up with the growth of production? The food safety has
been rapidly declining in the recent years. More than 76 percent food items on the market were
found adulterated in a random survey by Public Health Laboratory of Dhaka City Corporation in
2004.Once upon a time food adulteration meant mixing water with milk. Nowadays farmers use
excessive pesticides, mix formalin and potassium carbide in fruits and fish, urea in whitened rice,
soap in ghee and brick dust in chili powder. This brings raises a big question on the food security
success of Bangladesh. According to the United States Department of Agriculture.Food insecurity
is a situation of "limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited
or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways. Are we settling for
unsafe food security?
This crisis can be attributed to the following points:
1. Indiscriminate use of pesticides to boost production:
More than 47% of farmers in Bangladesh use more pesticides than needed to protect their crops,
according to a recent survey of 820 boro (winter rice), potato, bean, eggplant, cabbage, sugarcane
and mango growers. More than 87% freely admit to using little or no protective measures while
applying pesticides. This is due to the fact that there is a gap in knowledge in the sense that farmers
are unaware of the more economic ways of preserving and growing crops. Only 4% of Bangladeshi
farmers are formally trained in pesticide use or handling. As a result they use the wrong quantity or
type of pesticides for food preservations. For example, farmers are using a mixture of toxic
chemicals in order to fight insect pests. They are unaware of the need to stop using such things
before harvesting. (Financial express, 2009)
2. To protect themselves from the odds of producing perishable goods:
Although fruits are supposed to naturally ripen in trees, to quicken the ripening process, the traders
have been using chemicals. One of the reasons for this is availability of adequate storage facilities.
Even if farmers have access to storage facilities, is too expensive for them to make use of those
facilities. Since their products are perishable in nature, it is not always convenient to carry and
supply ripe fruits as they get spoiled quickly. So traders pick unripe fruits and then use artificial
methods to increase their shelf lives. For many years, ethylene had been used as a fruit ripening
agent, but nowadays artificial ripening of fruits are done by ethane, calcium carbide and ethephon.
Only 100 gm carbide is required for 50 kg of fruit. The cost of treatment of 1 kg of fruit is about 25
paisa only. The low price of the carbide results in their indiscriminate use by the unscrupulous
traders Usage of such chemicals reduces the post harvest loss of mangoes to 1 to 2 percent. In the
traditional method, the post harvest loss is about 20 to 30 percent.
3.To improve the appeal of the food products:
The consumers are likely to purchase food products that look fresher and brighter. For example the
bananas arrive at Sadarghat before first light They are a deep green in color and bitter to the taste.

But by that same afternoon, miraculously, these same bananas will be bright yellow and sweet
making them ready for sale.
4. Lack of fear of law enforcing agencies:
Although the existing laws are adequate to prevent food adulteration, the government cannot do
that for lack of coordination among the ministries concerned. There is an obligation that the
police department under the home ministry has to assist in implementing those laws, they said.
The laws are not being implemented due to lack of coordination among the ministries and
departments concerned. This leads to the real layers in this unfair practice getting away with such
a heinous crime. As a result, unscrupulous traders are being able to continue to market and sell
adulterated food items

Part B

Bangladesh has yet to achieve comprehensive food security that resolves the problems of
availability of safe food. Solving these problems will require concerted action by the government,
the private sector and individual households.
The following could be done to improve the unsafe food security situation:
1.Effective food safety regulatory framework: An effective food safety regulatory framework is
imperative to ensure safe food for consumers in a country. Bangladesh is lacking it for a long time
which resulted serious public health issues as discussed. However, considering the current
situations, it can be ecommended that the FSRRB (Food Safety Regulatory Regime of Bangladesh)
require a single well-drafted and up to date legislation that will provide for an autonomous and apex
food safety regulatory body to perform all kind of coordination. The implementation of modern
food laws, standards and regulations will serve as a benchmark for evaluating and maintaining food
safety. They will provide environmental health and sanitary officers with the capability to target and
reduce unsafe food handling and processing practices. Also such apex body needs to be built on the
accountability and transparency that will be free from any kind of bureaucratic complexities. Laws
should be amended providing the higher penalties for the wrongdoers as well as an efficient
administrative enforcement regime need to be structured based on persuasive tools.
2. Alternative Production Methods: World Bank research compares outcomes for farming with
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and conventional techniques, using input-use accounting,
conventional production functions and frontier production estimation. IPM comprises a range of
approaches, from carefully targeted use of chemical pesticides to biological techniques that use
natural parasites and predators to control pests. Results from Bangladesh suggest that the
productivity of IPM rice farming is not significantly different from the productivity of conventional
farming. Since IPM reduces pesticide costs with no accompanying loss in production, it seems to be
more profitable than conventional rice farming. Interview results also suggest substantial health and
ecological benefits.

3. Educating farmers about pesticides: Only 4% of Bangladeshi farmers are formally trained in
pesticide use or handling. As a result they use the wrong quantity or type of pesticides for food
preservations. Education and training in the use of pesticides will lead to farmers making discrete
use of pesticides, which will increase food safety.
4. Improving storage facilities: Due to the perishable nature of the goods they produce, terms of
trade is said to decline secularly against farmers. This encourages them to make use of chemicals
that increase the shelf life of their products. Increasing the number of storage facilities will help the
farmers battle with the perishable nature of their goods. This will also boost food security because
produce from years of bumper production can be stored and used in years of lean production.
5. Improving storage facilities: Due to the perishable nature of the goods they produce, terms of
trade is said to decline secularly against farmers. This encourages them to make use of chemicals
that increase the shelf life of their products. Increasing the number of storage facilities will help the
farmers battle with the perishable nature of their goods. This will also boost food security because
produce from years of bumper production can be stored and used in years of lean production.
6. Improving the supply chain: A chronic problem prevailing in the market for agricultural produce
is the proliferation of intermediaries which results in lowering price for farmers and hiking it for
consumers. For most of the agricultural produce that are traded in the market there are at least six
middlemen. As a result of the removal of intermediaries farmers can get around 10 to 15 percent
higher prices than before. Increase in their incomes may encourage the farmers to avoid adding
harmful chemical substances in their produce.
Due to long tails of traffic in the highways, the agricultural produce start to rot. Transportation by
river ways take less time helping farmers to overcome the odds of the perishable nature of their
products and gaining better terms of trade.
7.Improving the packaging: Improving the packaging of produce, which at present is abysmally
poor or non-existent, will increase the shelf life of agricultural produce. For this purpose, plastic
bags can be being distributed among farmers. It has been estimated that if plastic bag is used at
farmers' level the loss/wastage can be reduced by at least 5 per cent. But this will take some time,
according to experts. In China it took 10 years to popularise the use of plastic bag by farmers.
Finally we need good governance to tie all the plans up. It is of the utmost importance that good
governance is ensured at the different levels of society to ensure food safety. Efficiency is key in
governance be for a government or a private organization.

2. http://www.thefinancialexpress-