Bangladesh has reached a point in food grain production where it is able to feed its burgeoning populace. The population size of the country has more than doubled over the period of its independence and so has the production of staple food.Now the country has achieved self-sufficiency in the production of meat and fish – two important sub-sectors of agricultural production. We came to know this from none other than the Fisheries and Livestock Minister himself on Sunday.
According to statistics provided by the minister, fish production last year marked an increase by 84 thousand tonnes and surpassed the official target. This raised the contribution of the fishery sector to the GDP to 3.61 per cent which is almost one-fourth of the country’s gross agricultural production. But the actual significance of the figures cannot be perceived unless it is mentioned that the average per capita fish consumption is now higher than the minimum daily requirement.
Some five to six decades ago, the country was almost self-sufficient in fish production because of abundant availability of various kinds of indigenous sweet water fishes in our rivers and other open and closed water bodies. But due to drying and deaths of many rivers on the one hand and indiscriminate use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides on the other, not only annual fish production dwindled drastically but many of the fish species also got extinct. We had to depend on other countries to meet a part of the shortfall.
However, driven by the increased demand for fish, our farmers took up fish farming vigorously and brought the country to the present state. This is how a bad situation turned into a good situation. The same is the story about meat production. More meat is available than the daily minimum requirement. Vegetables are also grown in abundant quantities.
Self-sufficiency in food grain and meat and fish production guarantees two basic health requirements of the people.
This is no mean feat for a nation that had to undergo food crises and hunger on several occasions in the past, especially during the colonial periods. Now efforts need to be made to gain autarky in the production of milk and fruits. Fulfilment of these criteria will ensure the growth of a healthy population with even better longevity.