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Country Briefs

  Bangladesh

Reference Date: 10-June-2020

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Cyclone Amphan severely affected agricultural sector in southwestern parts of country

  2. Output of 2020 “Boro” paddy crop estimated at average level

  3. Cereal import requirements in 2020/21 forecast close to five‑year average

  4. Prices of rice at high levels in May

  5. Food insecurity concerns exist for households affected by Cyclone Amphan. High levels of food insecurity persist for Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar District

Cyclone Amphan severely affected agricultural sector in southwestern parts of country

Tropical Cyclone Amphan hit the southwestern parts of Bangladesh on 20 May 2020, causing devastation, loss of lives and severe damage to the agriculture and fisheries sectors. The Khulna and Borishal divisions were the most affected. Although assessments are still ongoing, preliminary official estimates indicate that about 265 000 hectares of cropped land, including rice, vegetables, jute, sesame, mangoes and maize, have been adversely affected. Severe losses of livestock, poultry and fisheries in the most affected areas were also reported.

Output of 2020 “Boro” paddy crop estimated at average level

Harvesting of the 2020 main “Boro” paddy crop, which accounts for about 55 percent of the annual output, was completed at the end of May. The area harvested is estimated close to the five‑year average, but the lowest level since 2017, as low domestic prices induced farmers to shift paddy land to more remunerative crops, including maize, vegetables and tobacco. The average yields are estimated at a near‑record level, supported by favourable weather conditions, adequate supplies of high yielding seed varieties and fertilizers. Localized damages to standing crops were reported in the southwestern areas, due to strong winds, heavy rains and floods triggered by the passage of the tropical Cyclone Amphan. According to the Government early assessments, the impact of the cyclone on standing “Boro” crops was minimal as the harvest in the affected areas was almost completed when the cyclone hit the country. It is officially estimated that about 47 000 hectares of “Boro” land was damaged, accounting for less than 1 percent of the total planted area. Overall, the production of the 2020 “Boro” paddy crop is estimated at an average level.

The bulk of the 2020 minor “Aus” paddy crop, accounting for about 10 percent of the total annual output, was planted between March and mid‑May. Overall, weather conditions and irrigation water availability have been near average, supporting planting operations and early crop development. According to official information, Cyclone Amphan caused localized damages to “Aus” seedbeds, but farmers were able to replant most of the affected areas. Production prospects for the 2020 “Aus” paddy crop are generally favourable. The planted areas is forecast at an above‑average level, mostly reflecting remunerative prices at planting time.

Planting of the 2020 “Aman” paddy crop, which accounts for 35 percent of the annual output, has just started and will continue until end‑September. The area planted with the “Aman” crop is expected to remain at an above‑average level, driven by the current strong market prices.

The 2020 main season maize crop is expected to be harvested by the end of July. The output is forecast at a record high level, reflecting an expansion in the area sown, driven by robust demand from the feed industry and expectations of bumper yields as farmers increased the use of high-yielding seed varieties. The 2020 secondary season maize crop will be planted towards the end of the year.

The production of the 2020 winter wheat crop, harvested in April, is officially estimated at 1.25 million tonnes, close to the five‑year average.

Cereal imports in 2020/21 forecast close to five‑year average

Wheat import requirements, which account for the largest share of the cereal imports, are estimated at a near‑record level of 6.1 million tonnes in the 2020/21 marketing year (July/June), 10 percent above the previous five‑year average, following a steady increasing trend since 2012/13. The strong demand for wheat largely reflects a shift in local diet preferences. Similarly, maize import requirements are expected to remain high, at 1.4 million tonnes, due to the sustained demand for feed. By contrast, rice imports in 2020 are forecast to be limited, at around 185 000 tonnes.

Overall, total cereal import requirements in 2020/21 are forecast to be close to the five‑year average of 7.8 million tonnes.

Prices of rice at high levels in May

Prices of rice declined seasonally in May, weighed down by improving supplies from the 2020 main “Boro” harvest. However, prices remained well above their year‑earlier levels, after the increases registered in the previous three months and particularly in April, mostly reflecting an upsurge in domestic demand, with some pressure stemming from early concerns about shortages of labour to harvest the “Boro” season due to the COVID‑19‑related lockdown. In an attempt to support the vulnerable households, the Government increased the quantities supplied at subsidized prices through the various distribution schemes and to boost its food reserves and support farmers, it doubled the 2020 “Boro” paddy procurement target compared to the same season last year.

Prices of wheat, which is mostly imported, has been decreasing since the beginning of the year, reflecting adequate supplies.

Food insecurity concerns exist for households affected by Cyclone Amphan. High levels of food insecurity persist for Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar District

Tropical Cyclone Amphan has severely affected the livelihoods of at least 1 million people, destroyed houses and infrastructure, including irrigation facilities. According to initial Government estimates, the overall damage to housing, infrastructure, fisheries, livestock and crops is set at BDT 11 billion (USD 130 million). The most affected areas are located in the southwestern parts of the country, including the districts of Khulna, Jessore, Satkhira, Bagerha and Pirojpur, Barguna, Patuakhali, Bhota and Noakhali.

As of mid‑April 2020, about 915 000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar reside in the country, mostly in the Cox’s Bazar District. Most refugees fled to Bangladesh following the resurgence of violence in Rakhine State in Myanmar in late August 2017. They reside in temporary settlements where they suffer from high level of food insecurity and require humanitarian assistance to cover their basic needs. In addition, the influx of refugees is putting strain on the already limited resources of the host communities.

COVID-19 and measures adopted by the Government

In response to the COVID‑19 pandemic, starting from 23 March 2020, the Government has adopted several measures to prevent the spread of the disease, including tightening of controls of movement of people, the national closure of education and public institutions and the control on international flights. The Government has also introduced several fiscal measures to mitigate the impact of the outbreak. These include increased financial resources to the Open Market Sale programme to facilitate the purchase of rice for the most vulnerable households at subsidized prices. The Government will provide loans to companies to support the payment of salaries to about 4 million people for a three‑month period. In addition, on 15 April 2020, the Government announced plans to allocate BDT 21.3 billion (USD 251 million) for a housing scheme for the homeless and BDT 7.6 billion (USD 89 million) for the poor people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

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