The Ministry of Food in Bangladesh has been awarded the prestigious Bangabandhu Public Administration Medal in 2023.
The Ministry of Food has been formally recognized and commended for its significant and praiseworthy contributions in the category of policy and administrative reform, leading to its unanimous nomination for the Bangabandhu Public Administration Medal (Bangabandhu Janaprashashan Padak) in the year 2023.
The information was conveyed in a letter signed by the Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration, Mohammad Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury, as stated in a press release by the Ministry of Food on Monday, July 24. In the letter, the Senior Secretary mentioned, “The government’s extensive financial support in social security programs and the adoption of digital methods for policy and administrative reform have been associated with the efforts of your organization in ensuring social safety.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will formally confer the Bangabandhu Public Administration Award on July 31 at 11:00 AM.
Roles and Achievements of the Ministry of Food
The Bangladeshi Ministry of Food plays a vital role in assuring food and nutrition security in the face of potential environmental and climate challenges. It administers the import and export of food grains, supervises procurement, storage, and distribution, and establishes prices for public procurement and sale in order to maintain price stability. The ministry carries out development initiatives, maintains food grain stocks, and performs quality testing.
Priorities also include investment planning, research, and monitoring for food and nutrition security. The implementation of food safety programs and collaborations with regional and international organizations augment its impact. Through these initiatives and partnerships, the Ministry of Food is advancing Bangladesh’s food and nutrition security, nurturing a healthier and more secure future.
Ensuring food safety
The Ministry of Food is actively engaged in ensuring food safety in the country by formulating policies aligned with the Food Safety Act of 2013. Additionally, they have set up eight labs in collaboration with Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) to conduct tests and ensure the quality of food products.
Expanding awareness and cooperation
Through seminars and roadshows in upazilas and districts, the government of Bangladesh is actively promoting food safety awareness. This initiative entails the participation of 486 diverse food safety organizations in the United States. The government is urging food manufacturers to prioritize the production of safe commodities and is coordinating with numerous organizations, recognizing that achieving food safety requires the participation of all sectors.
Regulating food standards and enhancing legislation
The Bangladesh Food Safety Authority is actively authorizing more mobile court drives to regulate food standards in restaurants around major cities. The government has also graded hotels and restaurants based on their safety ratings, with constant monitoring to ensure compliance.
Significant changes have been made in the “Control of Essential Commodities Act 1956” to combat hoarding and ensure the availability of foodstuffs. The government has also taken initiatives to enact the Food Safety Act, establishing the Food Safety Authority in the country.
Moreover, a law has been recently approved to prevent harmful activities in every stage of food production, supply and sales by defining the offenses and fixing the punishments (Production, Storage, Transfer, Transport, Supply, Distribution and Marketing of Foodstuffs Act 2023).
Diversifying food sources
Bangladesh, along with 45 other countries, is at risk of acute food shortages in 2023, as warned by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. The ongoing global crisis, including the Covid pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, has heightened concerns about food scarcity. The government emphasizes six crucial issues, including increasing food production and reserves, to tackle the crisis.
To achieve food security and diversify food production, the Food Ministry is prioritizing the production of vegetables, milk, eggs, fish, and meat. Pulse cultivation has been increased, and there are plans for mass production of corn.
The ministry is also working towards making each district self-sufficient in producing diverse crops. Diversifying agriculture with new fruits and vegetables is showing promising results and presents opportunities to secure the nation’s food supply already.
Addressing price volatility
To address price volatility, the ministry has taken various measures, including increasing the coverage of Open Market Sale (OMS) and Fair Price Card (FPC) to stabilize the market. Social safety net programs have been expanded to provide support to vulnerable groups.
Increasing public food storage capacity
Recognizing the need for sufficient storage space to ensure food security, Ministry of Food has undertaken massive programs to raise the food storage capacity. The storage capacity has increased to 2.2 million MT by 2015 and 3.0 million MT by 2021.
Investing in research
The ministry is working towards building awareness for producing, marketing, and consuming safe food. Research and studies are being conducted to further enhance food safety in Bangladesh.
Public research institutions with the guidance of the ministry are working on developing stress-tolerant varieties of crops, especially paddy, to ensure resilience in the face of challenging environmental conditions.
Improving Food And Nutrition Security (FNS)
Bangladesh’s Ministry of Food has been influential in attaining commendable food and nutrition security (FNS) results for the population. Since 1998-99, the ministry’s efforts have contributed to the rate of food production growth exceeding the rate of population growth and maintaining self-sufficiency in rice production. This has played a significant role in reducing poverty and improving access to food, resulting in Bangladesh achieving lower middle-income status in 2015.
According to the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES), the ministry’s nutrition-sensitive policies have considerably contributed to the decline in undernourishment (PoU) and food insecurity. Child stunting, an indicator of chronic malnutrition, has decreased by a third over the past two decades. Contributing to these positive outcomes are factors such as enhanced access to health services, hygiene and sanitation, decreased fertility rates, longer birth intervals, and pro-poor multisectoral policies.
Nutrition Security Policy Plan of Action 2021-2030 (PoA):
Building on these achievements, the Ministry of Food now focuses on comprehensive nutrition-sensitive policies to meet national nutrition targets and establish sustainable food systems. The recently adopted National Food and Nutrition Security Policy (NFNSP) recognizes the significance of partnerships, multisectoral convergence, and the public sector’s role in areas such as food procurement, hygiene, sanitation, and behavior change communication.
To assure effective implementation and coordination of the NFNSP, the Ministry of Food is directing the development of the National Food and Nutrition Security Policy Plan of Action (PoA) for 2021-2030. This ten-year plan aligns with the government’s priority of attaining FNS-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and meets relevant national and international obligations by 2030. Extensive consultations with stakeholders have been conducted to ensure the successful implementation of the PoA, which provides a framework for time-bound interventions coordinated by relevant government agencies.
To conclude, the Ministry of Food in Bangladesh has earned well-deserved recognition for its role in ensuring food and nutrition security amid environmental challenges, leading to its nomination for the Bangabandhu Public Administration Medal. Through its dedicated efforts, the ministry has played a crucial role in ensuring food and nutrition security in the face of potential environmental and climate challenges.