Tuesday, 28 September, 2021

Build buffer stock of food grains

Rabindranath Tagore said in one of his novels that civilisation is always ready to face any eventuality. This is more so in case of modern-day state administration, especially in a disaster-prone country. And there is no doubt that Bangladesh is one of the countries that are frequented by severely damaging natural calamities like excessive rains and droughts, floods and riverbank erosion, cyclones and tidal surges. Any such disaster may have devastating impact on the life and livelihood of the people, even unsettling the food security that the people now enjoy. Herein lies the urgency of stockpiling sufficient food grains to protect people from starvation.

With this in clear view, Bangladesh takes the initiative to increase food stock and expand the food storage capacity. As part of this drive, the country’s food department is going to import 50 thousand tonnes of non-basmati rice this fiscal year. Import of this amount will help strengthen the existing buffer stock of food grains and increase government’s capacity to tackle any unforeseen situation.

However, likely post-disaster compulsion is not the only consideration that prompts stockpiling of food grains. There is no shortage of food in the country now but this does not mean that all of the people have easy and equal access to food grains under all circumstances. Though buying capacity of the poor people is far better than any time before, under certain circumstances their purchasing power may undergo an abrupt fall. In such a situation as under the corona pandemic, the government may have to distribute food free of cost or at cheaper rates under open market sale – first to help the poor and then to stabilise price trend. 

Enough food grains in government silos will help authorities frustrate evil designs of vested quarter to destabilise staple prices. We sometimes notice the queer trend of rice price hike even during harvesting periods and although there is no scarcity of food grain. A section of profit mongers creates false crisis of food grains only to make extra profit. Strong food stock helps the government fight artificial scarcity of the same. Authorities should also strengthen and ensure a flawless rice procurement drive from the local market.