Consumption and production of wheat in the country are now two opposing phenomena – while the former is increasing due to changes in food habit of the burgeoning population, the later declines. During the Pakistan period, wheat products other than bakery items were almost totally absent from our daily menu but over the decades of independent Bangladesh use of wheat has increased manifold. This has made wheat the second most important food crop in the country. Farmers also showed keen interest in the production of this crop, which eventually led its annual production to the tune of 20 lakh tonnes in 1999.
From then on the production of wheat entered a drastic declining trend and came down to its half within three years due to spread of a fatal fungal disease. The situation turned so serious that the government had to impose a ban on its production in as many as six districts. Increased production of tobacco in some western districts was another factor behind the fall in wheat production. It is because of these factors that Bangladesh’s dependence on import of wheat increased. The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war has made its import more complicated.
During the recent years, cultivation of maize has gained popularity among the farmers of the country. Though this grain is quite nutritious for human beings as well, its use is still limited mainly to the production of poultry feed. People should be encouraged to develop the habit of maize product consumption as an alternative to rice and wheat. Field-level measures should also be taken to increase maize production.