26 January 2015
* In response to the food price hike during 2007-08 the government of Bangladesh undertook a number of initiatives to promote agricultural development, including:
a subsidy on fertilizer
endowment funds for agricultural research and development
cash incentives for exporting agricultural products
* Increasing imports of rice proved difficult due to India's ban on rice exports and high international prices
* The government's ability to respond to the food price crisis was also limited by a lack of machinery, personnel, and administrative capacity
Global food price hikes during 2007-08 resulted in a sharp rise in staple food prices in Bangladesh, which in turn led to a significant rise in the number of households falling below the poverty line. On the political front, Bangladesh was run by an unelected and undemocratic 'civil' caretaker government, backed by the military, which remained in power until the end of 2008 and undertook several steps to contain price hikes. Some of these policies and programmes were effective. Some were not.
The importance of rice
Food security in Bangladesh is strongly linked to the production, import, and price stability of rice. Bangladesh is a net rice-importing country, but rice imports in Bangladesh have traditionally been erratic, depending on domestic production, which is often affected by natural calamities. Self-sufficiency in rice production has long been a national objective. With expanded cultivation of high-yielding paddy varieties, the once critical dependence on imports has subsided.
Human-caused and natural calamities threaten food security
Since independence in 1971, Bangladesh has faced a number of human-caused and natural calamities that have threatened the food security of poor and marginalized people. These calamities include a famine in 1974, floods in 1987 and 1988, a cyclone in 1991, a flood in 1998, and a cyclone in 2007. The government responded to these crises by supplying food for immediate relief and by helping to coordinate food aid commitments and deliveries. At the same time, as part of its price stabilization strategy, the government encouraged private sector imports--a policy that helped avoid food shortages.
Policy measures in response to the food price hike during 2007-08
The government undertook a number of initiatives to promote agricultural development, including:
a subsidy on fertilizer
a rehabilitation programme for people affected by...