On May 7, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)—in partnership with the Government of Bangladesh, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, UNICEF, FAO, WFP, and icddr,b—organized a seminar on food systems and nutrition in Bangladesh at the Pan Pacific Hotel Sonargaon. The seminar convened high-level experts to discuss food systems and nutrition in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
Bangladesh’s rapid economic growth has uplifted many people out of extreme poverty. Although the country has made progress in food security, challenges remain for many to access safe and affordable healthy diets to achieve good nutrition outcomes. As such, international development frameworks such as the SDGs are placing greater emphasis on dietary diversity, tackling the challenges of purchasing affordable quality and safe food, women’s empowerment, and an increase in public-private partnerships.
At the seminar, various ministry officials reinforced the Bangladesh Government’s commitment to improving food security and nutrition. Advocate Md. Qamrul Islam, MP, Honourable Minster of Food stated, “The Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has prioritised food security for all in light of the Vision 2021 and SDGs.” Ms. Meher Afroze Chumki, MP, Honourable State Minister of Women and Children Affairs highlighted the interministerial efforts underway in Bangladesh that are placing women’s adolescents and children’s nutrition at the fore. Ms. Roxana Quader, Ms. Roxana Quader, Additional Secretary (PH & WH) & SUN Focal Point, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoH&FW), Mr. Mustak Hassan Md. Iftekhar, Chairman, Additional Secretary, Bangladesh Small & Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), Ministry of Industries and Mr. Md. Ruhul Amin Talukder, Joint Secretary, MoH&FW shared the government’s interministerial commitment to improving food systems and nutrition.
Dr. Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director, GAIN and former Director of IFPRI delivered the keynote speech, “How Can Food Systems Better Support Healthy Diets? A Global Perspective,” stressing the importance of taking collective actions in identifying the consumer needs and the associated business environment involved in the food system of Bangladesh. He also encouraged dialogue between public-private stakeholders to solve today’s pressing nutrition challenges. Key note on Global Perspective was preceded by overview on contexts in Bangladesh shared by Mr. Naoki Minamiguchi, Chief Technical Advisor, MUCH Project, FAO and Dr. Akhter Ahmed, Country Representative, IFPRI.
Further, the panel discussions on “Healthy Diets and Market Linkages” and “Investment in Nutrition and Public-Private Partnership” moderated by Ms. Anuradha Narayan, Chief, Nutrition, UNICEF and Dr Haddad elaborated on the need to think about the inclusion of diverse actors including private sector to address challenges,. The panellists included Mr. Md. Sherajul Islam, from Ministry of Food, Dr Md. Monirul Islam from Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Khondaker Mostan Hossain, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ms. Assunta TESTA, European Union, Dr. Tahmeed Ahmed from icddr,b,, Dr Ms. Christa Räder from WFP, Mr. Selim Reza Hasan from Solidaridad and Mr. Sujan Kumar Saha, Chairman & Managing Director, BASF Bangladesh Limited.
The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is an alliance driven by the vision of a world without malnutrition. Created in 2002 at a Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Children, GAIN has been working in Bangladesh for the past 8 years in partnership with the government, development partners, UN agencies, Private sector, Academia and civil society organisations. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) is an international agricultural research organization that provides research-based policy solutions to sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition in developing countries.