Climate change, population growth, land and water scarcity and a lack of advanced technology are major challenges for agriculture in Bangladesh, said Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque on Wednesday.
He has also identified backwardness in agricultural processing, weak market linkages, and shortage of farmworkers as other crucial areas which need to be addressed for the advancement of the sector which plays an important role in the country's overall economic development.
"Climate change threatens our food systems," the minister said at the opening session of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)-Bangladesh Research Portfolio Introduction and Partnership Dialogue at a hotel in the capital.
"Bangladesh is a climate-vulnerable country. Rising sea levels, saltwater intrusion, rising temperatures, rainfall variability, and extreme weather events are expected to harm our country in the next decades. Each of these factors will negatively impact our food systems," he added.
Abdur Razzaque said the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges.
He said the pandemic is a big challenge for all countries. It has affected the life, livelihood and agriculture of Bangladesh. It has pushed at least 2.5 crore people below the poverty line in Bangladesh.
"However, to deal with this impact in agriculture, various steps are taken such as mechanisation, transportation of agricultural workers, online marketing facilities, implementation of stimulus packages," he added.
At the function, Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim called upon all concerned to work tirelessly on the basis of partnership in all sectors including agriculture, fisheries and livestock to face the challenge of food security.
He said global poverty and hunger are increasing due to scarcity of natural resources, climate change and conflict in some parts of the world. Many countries around the world are facing food insecurity.
"Food prices have also gone up due to problems in supply chains. In this situation, the government, private sector, producers and consumers have to take responsibility to ensure food safety," he added.
SM Rezaul Karim said, in transition from this situation, institutional cooperation should be strengthened for the exchange of knowledge and experience related to agricultural research and development.
"We have to identify challenges and devise a holistic approach to solving them. CGIAR's partnership dialogue will create new steps in global food production," he added.
CGIAR launches research portfolio in Bangladesh
CGIAR, in collaboration with the Bangladesh government, has launched its research portfolio of advanced scientific innovations to help unlock the potential of the country's agri-food system, said a press release.
It introduced a total of 12 multi-disciplinary initiatives under the research portfolio, such as "Transforming Agri-food Systems", "Resilient Cities" and "Sustainable Intensification of Mixed Farming Systems".
"Today's meeting has been highly constructive. It has taken our collaboration to the next level so that we can meet the increasingly complex environmental and nutrition challenges that Bangladesh is facing," CGIAR Regional Director for South Asia Temina Lalani-Shariff said at the launching event.
"I would like to warmly thank our partners in Bangladesh and South Asia," she added.