Bangladesh joined FAO on 12 November 1973 within two years of gaining its independence from Pakistan. Ever since, Bangladesh and FAO have been working closely together in developing the areas of agriculture, food, forestry, fisheries, livestock, rural development and climate change. These efforts were further strengthened with the establishment of the FAO Representative office in Dhaka in 1978. Bangladesh is home to the most densely populated flood-plain delta in the world. It regularly suffers from natural disasters such as floods, cyclones and drought. It is also vulnerable to the growing effects of global climate change. But when faced with adversity, the country, especially its farmers and fishers, is extremely resilient. In the immediate post-independence period, FAO was one of the first international agencies to have extended a considerable amount of assistance to Bangladesh in supporting relief and rehabilitation, as well as national efforts for economic recovery and reconstruction. On the other hand Bangladesh has contributed significantly to FAO initiatives, commissions, committees and the working panels.
Bangladesh has had some success in reducing hunger and poverty. The population has increased from about 75 million at independence to about 160 million now. More than 40 million Bangladeshis – 27 percent of the population are undernourished by FAO’s definition – not having access to adequate amounts of safe, nutritious food to sustain a healthy and productive life. In the early 1990s, about 45 million, or 38 percent of the population was suffering from hunger. However, even with the impressive development of the agriculture sector in recent decades, under nutrition has remained a challenge largely because of rapid population growth and dwindling land resources. Today, the situation is being exacerbated by stresses such as climate change and the global increase in the prices of food, fuel and fertilizer.
Bangladesh is struggling to strengthen its institutions and programmes to cope with natural disasters, environmental change and population growth. Though the future impact of climate change is still uncertain, Bangladesh is preparing for the likely eventualities of increasingly serious weather-related events. And, FAO Bangladesh team is ready to is incorporate all the responses to these growing concerns in its cooperative development initiatives, as it has been doing for more than 40 years now.