On May 26-27, the Bangladesh Ministry of Food and Disaster Management will convene the Bangladesh Food Security Investment Forum 2010, which will be inaugurated by Bangladesh’s Honorable Prime Minister Sheik Hasina.
The Forum is hosted by the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh with the support of the United States Agency for International Development, the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, the International Food Policy Research Institute, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, along with other national and international partners. The goal of the Forum is to discuss and coordinate investment plans, priorities, and strategies to advance agricultural development and achieve food and nutrition security in Bangladesh.
With the highest population density in the world, little arable land, and extreme weather patterns, Bangladesh has often struggled to feed its population well. However, the country has also achieved some important successes: Bangladesh tripled its annual rice production in the space of only three decades and, prior to the 2007-2008 food price crisis, became food self-sufficient.
Despite these accomplishments, 50 million people in Bangladesh still live in extreme poverty, and 36 million are chronically hungry or malnourished. More than 40 percent of Bangladeshi children lack the nutrition they need for healthy lives. Addressing these challenges and promoting sustainable agricultural development is high on the Government of Bangladesh’s agenda.
The Forum comes at a pivotal time. After nearly 20 years of neglect, the central importance of agriculture for development is once again receiving the attention it deserves, including within the international donor community. Following the G-8’s L’Aquila Declaration on global food security and the G-20’s commitment of an additional $22 billion for agriculture last year, the U.S. government recently launched the “Feed the Future” initiative.
Tackling poverty and hunger will continue to be high on the agenda at upcoming global and regional events—including the G8 Summit in Canada next month, and the Investment Forum for Food Security in Asia and the Pacific in the Philippines in July—where Bangladesh will be showcased for its commitment to development for the country’s poorest citizens. The Bangladesh Food Security Investment Forum is an important first step in forging partnerships to achieve these goals.
This high-level Forum will bring together policymakers, local and international researchers, diplomats, and representatives from major donor, United Nations, and non-governmental organizations. Discussions at the Forum will focus on six broad topics that the Government of Bangladesh has highlighted as key areas for investment:
- Agricultural Growth and Productivity of Crops, and Adaptation to Climate Change
- Development of Fisheries and Livestock Sectors
- Agricultural Marketing, Price Stabilization, Value Chain, and Global/Regional Trade
- Income Growth, Social Safety Nets, and Public Food Distribution
- Food Utilization and Nutrition Security
- Cross-Cutting Issues: Gender and Governance
By investing in these crucial areas and focusing on the particular needs of women, children, and the very poorest citizens, the Government of Bangladesh hopes to support the production of more and better food, and access to it, with the ultimate goal of improving the incomes, nutrition, and health and well-being of all Bangladeshi people.