Bangladesh has developed a lot in nutrition and food security, despite some challenges to achieving sustainable development in the field.
Experts stressed adopting a multi-sectoral approach to improve nutrition, food safety, and overcome challenges.
This observation came out of a two-day international conference titled ‘Technical Consultation on the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) Follow-up Actions and Technical Symposium on Nutrition-Sensitive Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)’ Organized by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives and Ministry of Food at Bangabandhu International Convention Centre in the capital.
Speaking as the chief guest, Food Minister Advocate Qamrul Islam emphasised that Bangladesh has made remarkable strides in food security and is now addressing nutrition security challenges.
The minister highlighted that sustaining agricultural growth has a paramount role for improving food and nutrition security, because agriculture is the primary source of all nutrients for human beings.
The Bangladesh Second Country Investment Plan on Nutrition-Sensitive Food Systems (CIP2), that has been recently launched, and its implementation are being facilitated by the Ministry of Food in collaboration with 17 other ministries engaged in food and nutrition security-related actions, the minister said.
He also said, “The government is committed to the current and future generation for sustainable development of food and nutrition security and the comprehensive implementation of the Bangladesh Second Country Investment Plan on Nutrition-Sensitive Food Systems (CIP2) could play a catalyst role in sustaining agriculture and addressing nutrition security challenges”.
M Badrul Arefin, Director General, Food Planning and Monitoring Unit (FPMU), Ministry of Food, presented the keynote paper in collaboration with Günter Hemrich, Deputy Director ad interim, Nutrition and Food Systems Division, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) that highlighted the food systems approach encompassing actions from production to the plate that impact diets and food and nutrition security.
At this stage, the speakers expressed the opinion that lack of awareness about the health-related food habits, lack of cleanliness and health knowledge, and some obstacles in the field of safe and nutritious food, lack of agricultural land pose challenges to the overall development of food and nutrition security.
Recognising the reasons for sustainable development of food and nutrition security, the speakers mentioned that addressing climate change, disaster risks, rapid population growth, and excessive use of natural resources and volatility of commodity prices is also important.
Analysing the intrinsic relationships between agriculture, food and health, the speakers also said it has become urgent to take appropriate measures through identifying socially acceptable solutions for food security and nutrition.
Alpha Bha, representative of World Food Programme (WFP), Edouard Beigbeder, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative, Bardan Jung Rana, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to Bangladesh, and David Doolan, FAO Representative, also provided remarks on adopting a multi-sectoral approach to improving nutrition.
Mario Ronconi, Minister Counsellor, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Bangladesh, and David Westerling, Deputy Director, Economic Growth Office and Team Leader, Feed the Future, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Bangladesh, and different guests of honour emphasised the need to leverage health, agriculture and food sectors to improve food and nutrition security.
Shahabuddin Ahmed, Secretary, Ministry of Food, and Md Habibur Rahman Khan, Additional Secretary, Health Service Division as Co-Chair, highlighted the Second National Plan of Action for Nutrition (NPAN2) and CIP2 as vital updated policy tools to track progress on food and nutrition security. To this end, the two ministries were seen to be playing a lead role in strengthening synergy and capacity for nutrition.
Begum Roxana Quader, additional secretary of local government division, emphasised nutrition sensitive water, sanitation and hygiene to reduce diseases.