Disagreeing with the recent observation by an economist that a ‘silent famine’ has been prevailing in the country, the Food and Disaster Management Adviser Dr AMM Sawkat Ali yesterday categorically said a ‘hidden hunger’ is now persisting in the country rather than famine.
“When people die on a large scale due to starvation for scarcity of food then it can be termed as ‘famine’,” he said while speaking at a press briefing at the conference room of the Food and Disaster Management Ministry.
Listing the government initiatives for providing food to the marginalized people at affordable price, the Adviser, who is also in charge of the ministries of Health and Family Welfare said so far 137 metric tons of rice have been distributed under the Open Market Sale (OMS) of rice throughout the country. A total of 47 trucks have been engaged for selling of OMS rice throughout the country from the beginning of this month, he added.
He said that 40 more OMS rice trucks have added to the existing 15 in the capital city form yesterday.
He informed that 3 lakk 91 thousand and 228 people would get food under VGF programme up to the month of June as against 2 lakh 30 thousand and 328 people in the last year.
“Besides the VGF programme 44 thousand 5 hundred and 63 metric tons of rice would be provided to the distressed people under Gracious Relief (GR) programme” the Adviser said while mentioning different initiatives for the providing food to the poor of low income group.
Replying to a query he said rice has started arriving from India.
“The government has signed a contact with a private firm of India for importing 50 thousand metric tons of rice at a price of $ 397 per metric ton” he mentioned
He further said that USAID would provide 90 thousand metic tons of rice and ‘Care’ would supply it to the poor people.
He hoped that with the arrival of new harvest ‘Boro’ there would be no food crisis in the country.
Highlighting the importance of employment for the marginalized people Dr Sawkat Ali said Tk 100 crore has already been distributed to the District Commissioners (DC’s) for creating employment and income generating projects for the poor people.
He said that per person will get Tk 150 as wage per day labour under Food for Work Programme, repairing roads and embankments, canal digging, tree plantation and nurturing.
“Local Government and Engineering Department (LGED) is also working with different programmes at 118 upazilas of the country for employment of the poor people,” the Adviser added.
Secretary and high officials of the Food and Disaster Management ministry among others, were present on the occasion.