Director General Mathew Morell of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) lauded Bangladesh’s success in rice production and the progress in its agricultural and socioeconomic sectors in the last five decades.
“Bangladesh has the highest average rice yield in South Asia and has transformed Bangladesh from a food-deficit to a food-surplus country,” Dr. Morell said at a World Food Day webinar on 16 October 2020. He highlighted the fact that Bangladesh’s rice production increased 3.5 times in the last five decades which made the country the world’s fourth largest producer of the crop. “This is a shining success story of reducing poverty and managing hunger through agriculture,” he added.
He acknowledged the contribution of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation in Bangladesh. “He had a strong vision and always gave a high priority to agriculture,” Dr. Morell said of him pertaining to his contribution in establishing several national agricultural research centers in the country, including the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute in the 1970s.
The Director General also noted that the recent Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to two researchers “for the development of a method for genome editing” which has strong relevance for technological innovation in agriculture.
Referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Morell said the year 2020 was particularly difficult because millions of people have lost their livelihoods and are suffering from poverty and hunger, and there is a pressing need to rethink all strategies in building resilient agri-food systems.
The World Food Day webinar was jointly organized by the Ministry of Agriculture of Bangladesh and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This years’ theme, Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our Actions are our Future, is a call for greater collaboration to build more resilient food systems and overcome hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.
The event was attended by distinguished guests including the Honorable Dr. Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, minister of the Agriculture Ministry of Bangladesh; Dr. Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum, secretary of the Ministry of Food; Mr. Rawnak Mahmud, secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock; and Mr. Robert Simpson, FAO representative in Bangladesh. Dr. Muhammad Mesbahul Islam, secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, chaired the webinar.