Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that shortage of food is "manmade".

"In a real sense, there is no shortage of food on the planet. The scarcity is simply manmade," she said.

The PM made the observation while speaking at the FAO World Food Forum 2022 as keynote speaker - joining virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban.

She alleged that politics and business interests concerning food, impact of climate change, pest and diseases are all mounting pressure on the agri-food systems.

"If even a fraction of the money invested on manufacturing weapons were spent on food production and distribution, no one would go hungry in this world," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said that estimates indicate over 800 million people or 10 percent of the global population regularly go to bed hungry.

"Things have now become worse with the Russia-Ukraine war, and subsequent sanctions and counter-sanctions, which have disrupted global food supplies and raised food costs," she said.

She noted that this is most unfortunate in a world with abundant resources boosted by remarkable contributions of science and technology.

She said that she had pleaded the international community to stop war, to stop politics over food, and stop wastage of food.

"Instead, please ensure food supply to areas where there's shortage and famine. As human beings, we must believe that everyone has a right to survive with food, and have a decent life," she said.

Talking about the agricultural development of Bangladesh, the prime minister said that after the assassination of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the agricultural programs and all other development initiatives that he had undertaken, came to a halt. Thereafter, a couple of decades followed without progress.

She mentioned that after coming to power in 1996, she followed the footsteps of Bangabandhu and immediately began short, medium and long term plans for Bangladesh's overall development, particularly in agriculture as self-sufficiency in food comes first.

She recalled that when she assumed office, there was a shortage of 4 million metric tons of rice, and when she ended her first tenure, there was a surplus of 2.6 million metric tons of rice.

"During my present tenure, we have again made remarkable progress in rice production. The total rice production was increased to 38 million metric tons last year from 28.9 million metric tons in 2008. It was possible due to our pragmatic policies, robust incentives and importantly, our hard-working farmers."

Sheikh Hasina said that the government policies included mechanization and new technologies for increasing food production, and giving agricultural appliances to farmers at subsidized rate up to 70 percent.

From 2010 to 2021, more than 71,000 agricultural machineries were provided to them, she said. "We made further provision for 51,000 more by 2025."

Moreover, Sheikh Hasina said that during her second tenure, from 2009 to 2014, Agricultural Inputs Assistance Cards were given to 20 million farmers with individual bank accounts.

These cardholders are given loans directly in their bank accounts for crop production and subsidy for agricultural inputs. Also, the central bank adopted an agricultural and rural credit policy for investment in agriculture.

"In the period of 2020-2021, over USD 2 billion in loans was provided to 2.25 million small and marginal farmers."

Despite it all, Sheikh Hasina said, Bangladesh's agricultural sector is challenged by climate change and natural calamities.

"Bangladesh, after all, is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world. And, climate change is a major threat to sustainable agriculture. Yet, Bangladesh and her resilient people have continued to move ahead tirelessly to attain self-sufficiency in all spheres of life."

She said that along with agricultural products, Bangladesh have also succeeded in increasing production of vegetables, fish, and other agro-based products, a lot of which are exported.

She said that Bangladesh today ranks 2nd in jute and freshwater fish production, 3rd in rice and vegetable, 4th in tea production, and 1st among Hilsa fish producing countries.

She also mentioned that Bangladesh will be one of the 20 countries showcasing at tomorrow's Investment Forum.

"We'll present attractive investment opportunities in key areas, including value chains for Bangladesh. We'll also focus on growth potential of our agricultural sector and highlight other business opportunities."

Notably, she said, Bangladesh is now an attractive destination for foreign direct investment.

"Our policies are liberal and laws conducive to investment. This includes fiscal policies related to FDI, tax benefits, incentives for exports, and other inputs as technology and competitive labour."

She also said that Bangladesh has good prospects for agro-processing industries.

"I would especially like to invite foreign investors to invest in the agro-sector," she said.

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