Increasing production of non cereals

Bangladesh, so far, has no doubt built up an enviable reputation for boosting production of cereals, specially rice. But it also needs to give attention to producing other foodstuffs for attaining comprehensive or all round food security.
For example, cooking oil is an indispensable kitchen item and mustard oil was produced sufficiently to meet the requirements of the consumers fully. But now, locally produced mustard oil meets roughly one tenth of such requirements and the rest 90 per cent of needs for cooking oil have to be met by importing mainly soybean oil.
The same can be said about dry chillies, ginger and other spices as well as various pulses which used to be grown in Bangladesh abundantly and met the entire demand of the country. But now substantial quantities of these have to be imported because of insufficient local production. Thus, import dependence has also developed in relation to these food items.
Once the country was self sufficient in milk and fishes. But milk powder is imported in large quantities and also fishes because local output of the same fall short of the demand. Thus, the country has became import dependent to some extent in relation to these basic food items and also vulnerable to their price escalations in international markets.
Not only this situation constitutes a drain on the country’s foreign currency reserve, at times the rising prices of imported foodstuffs make it difficult or impossible to market them at desirable prices in the local markets. Thus, it is very necessary to make large scale investments in the coming years by the government and private sector in the non cereal sub-sectors of agriculture. However, it needs emphasis that all such investments must be made under a comprehensive and strategic framework.
Planned cultivation of the non cereal crops with improved seeds and technologies will have to be tried. Policies should lead to a big push in the livestock, dairy and pisiculture sectors to substantially increase production in them. Production of fruits and vegetables for meeting fully the internal consumption needs and then producing a surplus for export, must be aimed.
Recently, production of non cereals appears to be rising. The rise in the locally produced onion, spices, potatoes, etc., are indicative of this trend. But it is important to keep the farmers motivated to go on producing the non cereals. For instance, the import of cheaper onions and spices from India and other countries when local producers of these were about to market their produce, led to a big fall in their prices during the last several years. Thus, government needs to have policies in place and use them delicately for better results in this sphere


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