May 19, 2013 | 11:49 AM (BD Time)
19 May, 2013 Sunday
Much reliance on rice leads to malnutrition
. BSS, Dhaka
The over focus on rice production has led to malnutrition in the country, a senior researcher said on Tuesday, revealing how the neglect to production of fish, meat, milk and vegetables turned counter productive in last thirty years.
"Poorer classes are now compelled to depend on rice as the cheap source of their energy amid soaring price of animal proteins and vegetables," Akhter Ahmed, chief of party of International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), said at a seminar here.
Akhter said despite an apparent rise of rice price in markets, the real price of the staple actually shrank by 50 percent in last three decades if it was calculated depleting year-on-year inflation. In other words, he said, the price of rice has just gone down to half, while price of non-rice food items shot up substantially.
Funded by USAID, IFPRI has organized the seminar on nutrition research in Bangladesh at BRAC center to review the nutrition researches in Bangladesh and beyond.
Programmes such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Alive and Thrive, BARC's pushtikona programme, ICDDRB's Transform Nutrition, Leveraging Agriculture to Improve Nutrition (LANSA), and Strengthening Partnerships, Results and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) were reviewed in the function.
Akhter said the real price of rice has only risen in 2007, when the world food market experienced a volatile condition,
partly because of global warming and bio-fuel endeavours using cereals in developed world. Otherwise, he said, rice price has been going down and down, alluring poor people to consume more rice to respond hunger.
He said the overall per capita rice consumption has reduced in the country over years, but the consumption of the cereal went up for at least 30 percent of population due to poor supply of protein and vegetables and their high prices.
Fish is the worst hit food item in the country, he said adding the impact of over dependence on rice has resulted in micronutrient deficiencies that led to poor productivity among work forces, anaemia among pregnant mothers and toddlers, and poor mental growth to children under 2 years of age.
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