Floods of last year, pandemic-induced difficulties in the agricultural sector and inability to maintain a good food reserve behind the rise, officials say
Bangladesh imported 6.6 million tonnes of food grains in the just ended 2020-21 fiscal year, hitting a three-year record.
The import volume of this tax is also the second highest in a decade, according to statistics from the Food Planning and Monitoring Unit (FPMU) of the Ministry of Food.
Sources at the ministry confirmed to the Dhaka Tribune on Saturday that with the exception of fiscal year 2017-18, the volume of the country’s food imports has never been higher in the past 10 years.
They attributed recurrent large-scale flooding in 2020, pandemic-induced difficulties in the agricultural sector and the failure of the food department to maintain a good food reserve for higher imports in fiscal year 2020. -21.
Bangladesh has suffered recurrent flooding five times in the past year, with more than 40% of its area submerged during various periods. A study by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute found last year that if the flooding of land remains in the 22% band, farmers suffer losses but achieve better yields during the growing season. post-flooding with soil becoming fertile.
But when floodwaters submerge more than 22% of the land, rice production decreases, on average, by 70 tonnes per km². In addition, the year 2020 saw certain disturbances induced by confinement in the agricultural value chain and the General Directorate of Food also failed to maintain a threshold level of food security (at least one million tonnes) of reserve in food silos.
Although in recent years Bangladesh has emerged as the third rice-producing country after China and India, relegating Indonesia to the fourth position, its large population, rice-based eating habits and seasonal shocks ( floods, drought and disease-related crop losses) often force Bangladesh to import the staple food from India, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar.
In addition, over the past two decades, Bangladesh’s national wheat production has grown from two million tonnes per year to just over one million tonnes now, as the demand for wheat has reached nearly seven million tonnes. tons per year. As a result, Bangladesh is now ranked among the top 10 wheat importing countries in the world.
In 2019-2020, the government of Bangladesh did not require importing a single tonne of rice; only 4,018 tonnes of rice were imported by private traders. But in the last fiscal year (2020-21), the public and private sectors imported more than 1.3 million tonnes of rice, a record since it had to import a record 3.8 million tonnes in 2017. -18 due to huge crop losses due to flash floods in the Haor area. .
Over the past decade, Bangladesh imported the largest volume of food grains (9.7 million tonnes) after the Haor flood in 2017-18. And, the 2020-21 import volume (6.6 million tonnes) is only second compared to the last 10 years.
The bulk of imports reached the country’s ports in the second half of the fiscal year and the government food reserve was very low before being replenished in May-June this year. This has been attributed as one of the reasons the government failed to meet its targeted deliveries of food to the poor and vulnerable during the pandemic period.
A food department monitoring report said yesterday that in fiscal year 2020-21, the government could only achieve 71% of its planned food delivery to vulnerable people under the public delivery system of food (PFDS) until mid-June.