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Modern food safety system stressed

Staff Reporter:

Stating around 10.62 million tonnes of food are wasted every year in Bangladesh, speakers at an interna-tional conference on Sunday laid emphasis on modernizing the country’s food safety system to prevent food losses and ensure safer food.
They also said the presence of unsafe and contaminated food poses significant health risks, leading to various diseases such as diarrheal diseases and cancer while the annual economic losses from just six dis-eases alone in Dhaka city are around $1.65 billion.
The experts urged private entrepreneurs to invest in the agriculture sector for making good profit as well as helping the country overcome challenges in ensuring food security and building a healthy nation.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) Bangladesh in collaboration with the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority arranged the “10th International Food Security Conference” at a city hotel.
Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder inaugurated the conference as the chief guest. The theme of this year’s conference “Keeping Food Safe and Nutritious, Preventing Losses” focused on climate change as well as good food safety practices, and the impact of reducing nutrition and food waste.
Speaking at the program, the minister said the government is committed to ensuring nutrition and food safety as it is a prerequisite for building a healthy and prosperous nation.
“Food is one of the basic human rights. According to our constitution, the basic responsibility of the state is to ensure food for all citizens. We also consider ensuring nutrition for people and improving public health as the primary responsibility of the state,” he said.
The minister called upon the experts to shed light on the challenges in ensuring food security in the country and find out their solutions.
He said Bangladesh Safe Food Authority is playing the role of the main coordinator to ensure food safe-ty in the country. “But it is not possible to do it with only one authority or ministry. Everyone has to come on one platform and do proper and logical things to create effective safe food management.”
The minister also said that Bangladesh needs to adopt comprehensive and effective measures to deal with the multifaceted problem of ensuring safe food. “So, proper research and development is required. Ade-quate investment is needed for building capacity and conducting science-based research.”
IFC Director of Global Manufacturing‚ Agribusiness and Services Wagner Albuquerque de Almeida said there is no question that food safety is critical for health and for economic development. “Food safety and reduced food losses can only be ensured with the active participation of the private sector, and part-nership with the public sector, and we must work together if we are to achieve our goals.”
Food Ministry’s acting secretary Salma Mumtaz said it is necessary to ensure nutrition and quality food for building a healthy nation and enhancing the country’s development.
She also said proper steps should be taken to reduce post-harvest food losses and food wastage at differ-ent stages and enhance the food safety mechanism to ensure the food safety of the country.
Agriculture Ministry Additional Secretary Rabindra Shree Barua said being a small country it is a big challenge for Bangladesh to feed its 180 million people with quality food by increasing production.
He said Bangladesh has made significant progress in the agriculture sector and the country has achieved self-sufficiency in cereal production. “But climate change is one of the big challenges for the country in ensuring food safety. We’re facing growing natural disasters, including cyclones, floods, excessive rain-fall and drought, and heat waves caused by climate change, affecting food production.”
Barua also said lack of quality food processing facilities, quality silos, and multiple uses of land are also barriers to ensuring food safety in the country. “Our silos are not getting rest and our land is not getting rest as we grow two-three crops in a year.”
He said salinity in the coastal region is another factor that is hampering food production, forcing the government to invest in research for developing salinity tolerance crop varieties.
“Food contamination caused by the use of excessive fertilizer and pesticides is a challenge in ensuring quality food. Our farmers believe that the more they use fertilizers, the more they will get crops. So, we’re trying to make the farmers aware of using the fertilizer and pesticides,” Barua said.
About 300 local delegates and 43 foreign representatives from 24 countries, including IFC representa-tives, policymakers, top food producers, manufacturers, retailers, tourism companies, cold chain logistics providers, consumer organizations, and other key stakeholders participated in the conference.


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