No chance of starvation in Bangladesh
There is no chance of famine occurring in Bangladesh, Selim Raihan, executive director of Sanem, a research organization, said yesterday.
“Famine is a very strong word and it often creates panic. I think there is no chance of famine in Bangladesh. We have passed this time,” he said.
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He warned, however, that there could be temporary food shortages in remote areas or places with no connection to markets. If there is such a danger, measures must be taken in advance.
Raihan, also an economics professor at the University of Dhaka, was apparently referring to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last month urging his compatriots to do all they can to ensure that Bangladesh never faces a situation like famine and food shortage for the pandemic and in case there was a long Russian-Ukrainian war.
Virtually addressing a show hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture on October 12, she said world leaders feared a famine or food shortage could hit the world in 2023 for the Russian-Ukrainian war.
Raihan was speaking during a webinar on “The Economy of Bangladesh: Concerns and Required Interventions” organized by the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem).
“The next two to three months are crucial,” he said, adding that the economy was now under severe strain due to the current global and domestic situation.
To transition from the current crisis, the marginalized population should be covered by short-term social safety net programs while their coverage increases, Raihan said.
Indeed, food security for many will once again be at risk and in the medium term the government will need to make reforms in revenue collection and banking, he said.
Raihan, also executive director of Sanem, said apart from that, a high-level committee should be formed with all parties concerned to overcome the current crisis.
Action can be taken in accordance with the recommendations of this committee, he said. He went on to say that Bangladesh is in a vulnerable situation due to climate change.
Therefore, necessary measures must be taken to boost agricultural productivity. These areas must be seriously considered to avoid any future crisis, he said.
According to the media, ineligible people have been placed under social safety net programs excluding those who really need it and therefore these irregularities must be corrected, Raihan said.
He said the main concern arising from the current economic crisis was high inflation and the risk to food security.
Inflation has fluctuated between 6 and 9.5% since February.
In reality, inflation is at a higher level, but there is also debate that it is portrayed as low, he said.
The inflation rate in Vietnam, India and Indonesia is lower than that of Bangladesh.
In October, India recorded 6.77%, Indonesia 5.71% and Vietnam 4.30%. In Bangladesh, it was 8.91%.
Highlighting the results of a series of surveys of workers in the export-oriented garment industry, the executive director of SANEM said the food security of garment workers was at risk.
In other words, garment workers and their children are eating less than before, he said.
He said workers’ monthly wages had also fallen as they had to agree to work fewer hours for fewer work orders.