Food Policy

Food Policy course of action adopted and pursued by the government with regard to the production, processing, storage, movement, distribution, and marketing of cereals. The Ministry of Food is responsible for implementing and monitoring food policy. The present food policy was formulated in 1988. The notable objectives of the policy are: to attain self-sufficiency in food by ensuring production of the required amount of food; to encourage farmers to produce more food; to procure cereals from farmers at a subsidized/inspiring price at the harvesting period; to ensure proper supply and distribution of food produced in the country; to make food available to people of low-income group; to keep the price of food consistent with the buying capacity of the people by keeping prices stable and comparable to the cost of production; to arrange proper storage of foods produced in the country or procured from different sources; to build a 'Food Safety Stock' or buffer stock to meet disaster situations; to control the price of foods; and to reduce the food subsidy gradually by consolidating the food management system.

The policy suggests some time dependent action programmes to achieve its targets. The first target of the policy is to gradually reduce the food shortage and raise the level of consumption of food to 16 oz/person/day and achieve self-sufficiency in food. The policy emphasizes on the concept of 'Food Security' during various disasters. It has given limited power to private food traders and importers in the management of food grains. They have been allowed to import wheat. This is being done by the government to keep total control on the food grain market and to save people from exploitation by dishonest traders. To ensure fair price to growers and also to consumers the government has introduced food procurement programmes during harvesting seasons and sell it to people at reasonable prices during lean seasons.

A national committee normally determines the price of the grains, considering relevant factors. However, as the policy does not deal with food items like fish, meat, vegetables, pulses, oil etc, it seems to be incomplete and is not ensuring complete food security.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Bangladesh has also formulated a policy, 'Food and Nutrition Policy of Bangladesh' in the year 1997. The main purpose of this policy is to significantly improve the nutritional status of people, particularly the vulnerable group, including the elderly people, to contribute to the improvement in the quality of life, and to enhance socio-economic development. Naturally, the policy deals with almost every aspect related to nutrition including production of various foods, balancing the diet, crop diversification, supply of agrochemicals, nutrition education, etc. Although health workers follow this policy, the participation of other ministries and agencies in its implementation is limited. [M Kabirullah]

See also food security; grain storage; food preservation.