Domestic policy makers claim that Bangladesh is self-reliant in food production. That is partially true, as the nation is successful in producing rice and the government has talked about exporting rice after meeting the domestic demands.
A total of 10,978,000 metric tonnes of rice and wheat were produced in 1970-71 and production increased to 36,058,000 tonnes in 2014-15. The production of rice and wheat increased further over the last three years. High-yield paddy has also been introduced. Farmers as well as agro scientists can claim credit of this success.
According to the Agriculture Extension Department (DAE), a total of 2.33 million tonnes of onions were produced in 2018-19. Some 1,092,000 tonnes have been imported. Around 40 per cent of the onions are imported from abroad and a lion’s share comes from India.
Garlic and ginger are imported from China. The import price goes up if the production of these items falls in those two countries or export duty is increased there.
According to Prothom Alo reports, India fixed the export price of onions at $850 per tonne in a bid to keep its local market stable. No onion was imported after India had increased the price of onion. As a regulatory body, the commerce ministry has a responsibility. The ministry should sit with the traders and force them to reduce the price.
En.prothomalo.com explains how this is a temporary remedy. As a permanent remedy, the dependence on imports has to be reduced and local production has to be increased.
The claim the government makes about the food autarky should not be limited to rice. The production of other agro products has to be increased. We should not just depend on other countries.