Bangladesh third largest food importer in world: FAO

Country: Bangladesh
Bangladesh third largest food importer in world: FAO
24 December 2023

Bangladesh has ranked third among food importing countries for importing around 12.5 million tonnes of food products from the global market in 2021, according to the latest report of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

In the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)'s recently published World Food and Agriculture Annual Statistical Booklet 2023, Bangladesh produced around 93.3 million tonnes of agricultural produce in 2021. 

China ranks first in food imports, while the Philippines comes up second.

In the same year, the country imported around 12.5 million tonnes of food products from the global market. The highest food import expenditure is still made on wheat, edible oil and milk powder.

Indicating that the cost of import-dependent food products in Bangladesh is high, FAO stated that the per capita consumption of edible oil, meat, milk and such nutritious food is the lowest. 

However, the per capita consumption of food produced in the country, like rice, vegetable, fish and fruit, is good. In this category, the people of Bangladesh are ahead in calorie consumption, the report said.

Commenting on the data, Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzak told the media, "We have taken the initiative to increase the production of import-dependent food products. Production of edible oil, onions and lentils is increasing as a result of innovating new varieties and providing incentives to the farmers. We hope these agricultural products will curb Bangladesh's dependence on imported agricultural products."

The FAO report, however, highlighted that Bangladesh has fallen behind in food exports.

The top five countries in food exports are, in order, US, UK, Germany, China and France. Bangladesh is near the bottom.

The country ranks third in rice production only among the six main food products of the world. It does not rank among the top five countries in the production of wheat, corn, sugar, edible oil and potatoes. 

In the past years Bangladesh imported the first four products. It was not necessary to import potatoes. In fact, Bangladesh would export potatoes. With the price of potatoes suddenly shooting up this year, the country has now entered the list of potato importing countries.

The FAO report further said Bangladesh's dependence on food import from the global market is increasing. 

In 2010, Bangladesh imported 9.3 per cent of its total food demand, and in 2022 that went up to 11.2 per cent. In that span of time, Bangladesh's imports of rice, wheat and edible oil have been rising. But due to the dollar crisis, hardly any rice was imported this year. Wheat imports also fell by 30 per cent from the normal volume.

The report highlighted the per capita consumption of calories of all countries. Globally on average, each person consumes 2,978 calories per day. In Asia that average is 2,931 calories. 

In Bangladesh the per capita calorie consumption is 2,614 calories. Of the total calories, 1,288 calories is from rice and wheat or other food grain. Then comes edible oil with 203 calories, sugar with 83 calories, fruit 94 calories and potato 175 calories. 

People in Bangladesh get only 20 calories from meat, 55 calories from milk and eggs, 40 calories from soft drinks and 52 calories from fish.

According to FAO, Bangladesh ranks among the top ten countries in the world in the production of 22 agricultural products. 

These include rice, masur dal (lentils), potato, onions, tea and such products as well as various fruits. Bangladesh entered the top ranking lost over the last decade in the production of certain vegetables like pumpkin, cauliflower and such.

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