Govt takes up $7.98b food security plan

http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=178489

Govt takes up $7.98b food security plan
Star Business Report

The government will invest $7.98 billion to ensure food security in the next five years under a Country Investment Plan (CIP).

The government yesterday held a daylong consultation on the draft CIP with the development partners and sought their assistance to meet a financing gap of $4.9 billion in the plan.

Of the financing gap, $3.3 billion has been identified as first priority requirements through a participatory prioritisation process, and of the total investment plan, $3.04 billion will come from already allocated budget resources and contributions by the development partners.

The first version of the CIP was approved by the government in June last year, and the plan will be finalised next month.

The CIP is a country-led planning, fund mobilisation and alignment tool in support of increased and effective public investment in agriculture, food security and nutrition.

The five-year comprehensive plan aims to ensure sustainable food security, and provides a coherent set of 12 priority investment programmes to improve food security and nutrition in an integrated way.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith said the CIP would substantially increase employment opportunities in animal, fisheries, forestry, environment, and water resources development.

“They will provide for substantial employment to overcome poverty problem over a period of next 10 to 13 years,” he said, while addressing the inaugural session of a ‘National Forum on Improving the Bangladesh Country Investment Plan (CIP) for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition’ at Sheraton Hotel in the city.

Muhith and Planning Minister AK Khandker sought support from the development partners to implement the CIP.

“I would appeal to the development partners to come forward proactively to assist in the implementation of the plans as they did come in the formulation process,” Khandker said.

Food Minister M Abdur Razzaque chaired the discussion, while Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury, Fisheries and Livestock Minister Abdul Latif Biswas, FAO Representative to Bangladesh Ad Spijkers and Deputy Chief of the US embassy in Dhaka Nicholas J Dean also spoke.

Muhith said the attention on agriculture and food security was lost. “As a result, we faced problems in 2006 and 2007. But now we have focused our attention this year.”

Ad Spijkers said the CIP is the tool for the government to raise additional funds in support of agriculture, food security and nutrition.

“Collectively, we now need to raise additional funds to finance the CIP.”

Spijkers stresses three fronts as the possible source of the funds — budget resources, development partners and financial institutions.

Nicholas Dean said Bangladesh’s CIP could not have come at a better time, as the days of cheap food have come to an end. “The private sector has a meaningful role to play here.”

He said public sector investment to agriculture has declined. “This trend must be reversed to give enough food to the people.”

The finance minister said the CIP is a comprehensive plan with 12 priority areas and those are also classified — food availability, food access and food utilisation.

Muhith said progress could be made in provision of credit to enable the farmers in getting agricultural inputs.

Matia Chowdhury said there are some persistent and emerging challenges to implement the CIP. “As population is increasing and land is decreasing, equitable distribution of foods emerges as the biggest challenge,” she said.

She underscored the need for diversification of the country’s cereal production in the face of uncertainty in the global market.

The agriculture minister said the government would continue providing support to the farmers so they could buy inputs at lower cost.

The food minister said adaptation to climate change would be the biggest challenge for the government in the coming days.

“We are having decreasing level of access to natural resources and increasing frequencies of natural disasters,” he said.

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