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Staff Correspondent
The World Bank (WB) has approved $500 million to improve livestock and dairy production in Bangladesh to help the country meet growing demand for egg, meat and milk and thereby improve the nutritional intake of its citizens.
According to a WB press release, the Livestock and Dairy Development Project will improve agricultural productivity and market access of 2 million smallholder household farmers and small and medium-scale agro-entrepreneurs.
By stimulating growth and improving livestock production systems, livestock farmers in Bangladesh will have better access to livestock services and practices.
“By increasing livestock productivity, Bangladesh will be better able to meet the food demands of its population,” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.
“Livestock development also has the potential to create more and better jobs for women, youth, and the vulnerable in rural areas,” he added.
The release said the livestock sector employs 14 percent of the total labour force, but more than 70 percent of rural households are engaged in livestock production. Currently 68 percent of the agricultural labour force are women and they are mainly involved in livestock and poultry production.
“Climate change impacts on livestock production threaten to hamper the development of livestock,” said Manievel Sene, World Bank Team Leader for the Livestock and Dairy Development Project.
“Rural households’ livestock assets are highly exposed to risks, including loss of livestock, associated with natural events and major disease outbreaks. Mitigating risks by creating an enabling environment for livestock insurance will reduce the vulnerability of smallholder farmers as well as enhance productivity, “added the World Bank official.
The press release said production in cattle and milk, meat, and poultry meat and eggs is not meeting consumption growth, resulting in rising shortages: it is anticipated that by 2021, there will be annual shortages of 1.5 billion eggs, 0.5 million tonnes of meat, and more than 5.9 million tonnes of milk.
In 2015-2016, imports of dairy reached $248.8 million. Young children, pregnant women and new mothers are particularly vulnerable to nutritional shortfalls.
The project aims to provide at least two million people with food safety information through training, mobile applications, and other multimedia tools.
The credit from the World Bank’s International Development Association, which provides grants or zero-interest loans, has a 30-year term, including a five-year grace period.
The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. Since then the World Bank has committed over $30 billion in grants and interest-free credits to Bangladesh.