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Despite having substantially increased rice production over the last 40 years, Bangladesh struggles to feed its growing population, especially amid shrinking land and water resources and rising climatic threats. The country is densely populated, with nearly 160 million people squeezed into an area less than half the size of Italy. These challenges, along with high food prices and animal disease, make it difficult for many farmers to get ahead. FAO is working with the Government of Bangladesh to improve the availability of safe and nutritious food, increase the country’s resilience to threats and ensure coordinated responses to food security needs.
Controlling animal disease
Animal disease can wipe out a family’s ability to provide for itself and threaten public health. Bangladesh’s first outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) was in 2007, with many outbreaks reported since then. The country has culled over 2 million birds and destroyed more than 3 million eggs. Industry losses exceed USD 500 million. FAO is supporting efforts to enhance surveillance and improve biosecurity and hygiene practices in backyard and commercial farms and in live bird markets. It is helping the country to upgrade its veterinary services and promote public-private partnerships for preventing and controlling HPAI and other emerging infectious animal diseases. It is also playing a pivotal role in promoting and supporting the One Health Approach with other partners in combating human and animal diseases.
Reducing risks to shocks
Bangladesh, a low-lying delta, is highly prone to natural disasters. In 2007 alone, back-to-back floods, followed by Cyclone Sidr, destroyed crops and fishing boats, killed livestock and uprooted trees – all at a time when food prices were beginning to soar. Getting people back on their feet quickly, providing them with quality seeds, chickens, goats, tree seedlings and fishing gear so they can produce food and earn money, is critical. Just as important is reducing their risk to future shocks. To this end, FAO is supporting work to intensify and diversify agricultural production, introducing new crop varieties, like saline-tolerant seeds, and promoting the use of power tillers, threshers and irrigation pumps. It is encouraging farmers to plant higher-value and more nutritious crops like fruit trees and vegetables, and supporting sustainable fishing practices and improved livestock management.
Coordinating food security responses
As co-chairs of the Food Security Cluster in Bangladesh, FAO and the World Food Programme are working with partners to ensure that responses to food security and livelihood needs are well coordinated, strategic, timely and effective. Likewise, with the introduction of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification in the country, efforts are being scaled up to improve food security monitoring and analysis so that decision-makers have up-to-date, evidence-based information to plan their response.