The failure of the government at controlling the market and building a timely stock of rice has limited the poor people’s access to the staple food, speakers observed at a seminar on Wednesday.
They said many of the poor were remaining hungry as rice prices stayed beyond their purchasing capacity in the aftermath of natural disasters that damaged a good portion of rice production in the country.
The chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on the Ministry of Food, Abdul Wadud, admitted that the government had failed to control the opportunist businessmen, who increased food prices at their will after finding that the government’s stock was running very low.
‘But the government had taken prompt steps and tried to increase its stock by importing rice; and the situation had already improved,’ said Wadud.
According to him, the rice stock had risen to 3.5 lakh tonnes from only two lakh tonnes.
Information minister Hasanul Haq Inu said it was a matter of shame that the rice stock could deplete to only 2 lakh tonnes when it should have stood somewhere between 18 lakh and 20 lakh tonnes.
They were speaking at the seminar titled ‘the situation of food security in the aftermath of floods and natural disasters and the right to food.’
The European Union, World Vision and Right to Food Bangladesh jointly organised the seminar in the morning at CRDAP auditorium in Dhaka.
Wave Foundation executive director Mohsin Ali presented the keynote paper that revealed that the price of coarse rice increased by 50 per cent in a year.
The keynote paper recommended for reducing the price of rice being sold from government-subsidised Open Market Sell outlets, strengthening social safety net programmes and providing financial assistance to the disaster-affected people.
Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation chairmen Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, BIDS former DG Quazi Shahabuddin, Dhaka University Institute of Food and Nutrition Science professor Khurshid Jahan, Department of Disaster Management director M Khalid Mahmood, and World Vision grant acquisition and management coordinator Mohammad Qamruzzaman attended the seminar, among others.
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