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Overcoming food crisis: would rationing system be a way out to sustain the lives of low income groups? March 19, 2008

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World Food Program predicted that the rising prices of food items especially rice may cause political instability in the country since poorer households spend up 80 percent of their income on food. The UN agency said that the possibility of political, economic and social unrest is growing as the price of food is rising much faster than people’s wages in Bangladesh.They opined that though there is a serious food shortage but it is not a femine condition. In Bangladesh , crops and harvests were wrecked by natural deserters , namely two floods and cyclone Sidr which devastated the south western coast.( Daily Star 19 Mar 08)

Dr. Akbar Ali Khan, an ex-Adviser of the immediate past Caretaker Government said in a meeting that the country is passing through a silent famine. People will not die from this kind of famine but nutrition of the people will be compromised, especially of the children and women. He asserted that Government will need to feed one and half crore of people which is not difficult if the govt is willing to. He suggested to increase the number of VGF card. ( Prothom Alo 19 Mar 08)

Government has tried to lower down the price of essential in many ways- by close monitoring of the market, fixing the prices, supplying the essential items through BDR, importing items through them, forming Better Business Forum etc. Government also introduces the VGF card in Sidr hit areas and in Monga areas.

Government may consider of introducing for rationing system, once was in practice long before but effective. Every ward may have its own shop and will supply the essential items to the low income group at a subsidised rate. In different states of India rationing system is still working. Bangladesh may also think of reintroducing the system to sustain the livelihood of the low income group of people in this time of crisis.

An ordinary citizen

20 March 2008

Bangladesh needs more support from the international community, including oil-rich countries, to cope with the sharp global rise in prices for food and energy, the head of the United Nations Development Agency (UNDP) said today. “The real issue is protecting the vulnerable from these shocks,” said UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis, who just completed a three-day visit to the South Asian country. “The international community cannot leave these huge world events unattended.”

UNDP said that roughly 40 per cent of Bangladeshis live below the poverty line and poor households spend nearly 70 per cent of their income on food items, the cost of which rose 16 per cent in 2007, with the price of staples such as rice and oil climbing even sharper.

In addition to the global spike in prices, the situation in Bangladesh was exacerbated by two devastating floods and Cyclone Sidr, which decimated crops last year, UNDP said.

Another factor that makes assistance to Bangladesh crucial is the political climate, Mr. Dervis maintained. “It is determined to build stronger democratic institutions and deeper practices of democracy,” he said.

“A successful democratic Bangladesh that can overcome political and economic difficulties is an example to other lower income countries, to the Muslim world, and many other countries facing similar problems,” he added. (UN News Center newsletter 18 Mar 08)

FAO included Bangladesh in the list of 36 countries in food crisis. There are 21 countries from Africa, 9 countries from Asia including Bangladesh. (Prothom Alo 20 Mar 08)

24 March 2008

FAO speculated that the price of grains will remain high in 2008 than in other years. So it stressed to support the farmers to increase agricultural productions.

FAO suggested short term and long term measures. The short term measures include supplying seeds and fertilizers to the farmers .

Md-term measures include developing the irrigation system, developing rural infrastructure and increasing the fertility of the lands.

FAO also suggested increased food support to the rural poor. (Prothom Alo 21 Mar 08)

The government has formed a high powered committee with the Chief Adviser as the chairman to combat the soaring price of the essentials and to extend the safety net among the low income groups.

The measures so far taken by the government include continuing and expanding open market sales (OMS) and vulnerable group feeding (VGF), starting new food for work programmes, and more intensive food imports.
The committee will also look into long term solutions, as the high prices are likely to continue.
The government is also discussing rationing, the specifics of which the new committee will thrash out tomorrow. [DS]

But the ordinary citizen like to disagree when one says that people sometimes dependent on state rations. Government cannot arrange work for food program for all people who need subsidized rate of rationing and who are already in work but the income is not enough to cope up with the market price.

An ordinary citizen

Post script:

Deputy Commissioners of different districts who met in a conference at Dhaka also suggested introduction of rationing to combat the price hike.

Left leaning parties urged for introducing rationing of essentials throughout the country

Related post:
OMS, Rationing and few words from the pages of Dr. Yunus


1. Lily - April 29, 2008

With food prices going up I am grateful that I found a prescription discount card to keep my meds’ prices down. It’s at http://www.rxdrugcard.com. The membership fee is only $4.50 a month. Drug prices are shown on that website to check before you enroll. You can save up to 80%. Generics and brand-name drugs are both covered.

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