Food Security Brief

Food Security Brief

May 2002B ANGLADESH F OOD SECURITY BRIEFSelf-sufficiency and Food AidSince independence in 1971, Bangladesh hasmade considerable progress when it comes to riceand wheat production. The production hasincreased from around 11 million Mt in the 1970sto more than 20 million Mt in the late 1990s. Incorrespondence with this, the inflow of food aidslowly decreased from as high as 20 percent of thetotal food supply in 1974 to 2 percent in 2000.(see Figure 1).2520151050Food Aid as Percentage of Local Productionrequirement. Let’s have alook at these issues in moredetail.Estimates of domestic productionBased on agricultural production estimates, thetotal food availability for 2000/01 is estimated at25.3 million Mt with a domestic production of 24.0million Mt. (see table 1).Food Availability (million Mt.), 2000/01Rice Wheat TotalNet production* 22.6 1.5 24.1Net commercial Imports 0.5 0.5 1.0Food aid imports 0.5 0.5Stock changes - 0.4 0.1 - 0.3Food grain availability 22.6 2.6 25.3* Domestic production minus seeds and losses (10 percent) Table 1Source: FPMU, Ministry of Food1971197419771980198319861989199219951998Source: FAOSTAT Figure 1The sustained increases in domestic production offood grain have led, more recently, to the claimthat Bangladesh has reached self-sufficiency infood grain production. This raises a couple ofimportant questions that need to be considered bya food aid agency such as WFP:1. How valid is this statement and what does itmeans in terms of food security?2. Are food aid imports still required or would itbe more appropriate to purchase food locallyor even withdraw completely?This food security brief provides a perspective.How food self-sufficient is Bangladesh?The question of whether Bangladesh is selfsufficientin food grain production can beanswered by comparing the national supply withthe domestic requirement. This seemsstraightforward. There are however various factorsthat complicate the equation. Firstly, the domesticproduction can be estimated by either following asupply- or demand-oriented approach. Theoutcome of these approaches might notnecessarily be the same. A second point concernsthe level set for the domestic food grainHowever, when following a demand-orientedapproach, we arrive at a different estimate for thedomestic food grain production. The 2000Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES)estimates the national average daily consumptionof food grain at 476 grams per person. The totalannual food grain consumption can therefore becalculated as:Food grain consumption = 476 grams x 365 daysx 130 million people ∗ = 22.6 million MtThis amount should equal the total availability offood when, as is the case in Bangladesh, noexports are taking place and no excessive wastagecan be observed. Domestic net food grainproduction can then be derived at by subtractingthe imports, food aid received and change innational stock, i.e.Domestic food grain production = 22.6 – (1.0 +0.5 - 0.3) = 21.4 million Mt.Comparing this outcome with the production figurepresented earlier we observe a difference of 2.7million Mt. The consumption data are confirmed byfindings of other national household surveys. The∗ The preliminary findings of the 2001 population census suggest a populationsize of 123 million. This figure is likely to be adjusted and we have thereforetaken the results of the 1991 population census as a base for estimating thetotal population, assuming a growth rate of 1.6. With a population of 123million, the estimate for the total availability of food grain would be 21.4 millionMt.

Poverty Monitoring Survey (May 1999), forexample, estimates the average food grain intakeat 477 gram per person, while the NutritionSurveillance Project (NSP) of HKI/IPHN yields anestimate of 464 gram per person for the periodDecember 2001 – January 2002 ∗∗ . It is thereforeplausible that the domestic supply as presented bythe production figures is overestimated byapproximately 11 percent.Level of domestic requirementTurning to the other side of the self-sufficiencyequation, we require an estimation for thedomestic requirement. In Bangladesh therequirement for food grains is fixed at 454 gramsper person per day. This translates into an annualrequirement of:Domestic requirement = 454 g/cap/day x 130million people x 365 days = 21.5 million Mt.However, given the Bangladeshi diet in which onaverage 75 percent of the energy intake is derivedfrom food grains, we may question whether therequirement level is not set too low?The FAO/WHO recommend a daily energyavailability of 2400 Kcal per person per day ∗∗∗ . If75 percent of the energy intake comes from foodgrain, and we use a conversion factor of3.57Kcal/g for a 10 percent wheat / 90 percentrice diet, the domestic food grain requirement canbe calculated as:Food grain requirement = (75 % x 2400 Kcal) ÷3.57= 504 g/cap/dayThis requirement corresponds with the averagefood grain intake of non-poor households as canbeen seen in table 2.Food intake (g/day)HouseholdFood item All Poor Non-poorFood grain 477 439 504Potato 64 52 72Vegetable 149 122 169Milk and Milk Products 32 12 47Meat, Poultry, Egg andFish65 33 89Pulses 24 19 29Others 115 65 152Total 926 741 1060Kcal 2200 1900 2500∗∗ For 2000, the NSP estimates the average daily food grain intake at 425 gramper person. However, this figure does not include consumption of special foodgrain preparations such as for example puffed rice.∗∗∗ This recommended level takes into account the composition of thepopulation, size of individuals, physical activity level, climate, type of diet,disease level, and distribution inequality.Selfsufficiency-2-Source: PMS, May1999Table 2Naturally, the table shows the actual consumptionof food items and not the requirement. It doeshowever show that Bangladeshis have a strongpreference for food grains in their diet (rice inparticular). Households that are less poor tend toconsume more food grain. This strengthens theargument that the current domestic requirementlevel for food grain is set too low and should beincreased to a more realistic requirementreflecting the preference for a rice-based diet. Witha daily food grain requirement of 504 gram perperson, the annual domestic requirement is:Domestic requirement = 504 g/cap/day x 130million people x 365 days = 23.9 million Mt.SummaryTable 3 summarizes the discussion so far:Estimates of self-sufficiency in food grain(million Mt.)Domesticfood grainproductionDomesticfood grainrequirementFoodgap*Claimed 24.1 21.5 2.6 - 3.3Our estimate 21.4 23.9 -2.5 1.8* Difference between the requirement and food availability net of food aidTable 3According to government estimates, Bangladesh isself-sufficient in food grain production. In fact, itclaims that the domestic food grain production ismore than enough to satisfy the domesticrequirement with a surplus production of 2.6million Mt. Add to this the net commercial importsand the off-take from national stocks, Bangladeshhas a negative food gap of 3.3 million Mt. Thistranslates into an additional 69.5 grams of foodgrain per person per day over and above the setrequirement of 454 grams/cap/day. This equals atotal consumption of 523.5 grams/cap/day. Ascan be seen in table 2, even an average non-poorhousehold does not reach this level of food grainconsumption.As argued above, a more realistic estimate of thefood gap can be arrived at by looking at the actualfood intake as given by various consumptionsurveys. In doing so we’ve estimated a food gap of1.8 million MT.What is the role of Food Aid?A decreasing dependency on food grain imports isone measure of long-term national food security.However, self-sufficiency is not a pre-requisite for

Bangladesh Food Security Briefattaining national food security. As long as foodgrains can be imported without putting unduepressure on the foreign exchange reserves to meetthe domestic requirement there is no problem.National food security does not however ensurefood security at the household level. The figures intable 4 provide the following picture ofBangladesh:Poverty:Selected IndicatorsAbsolute poverty (Food intake < 2122Kcal/day)Extreme poverty (Food intake < 1805Kcal/day)Nutrition status:Stunted (children < 5)Underweight (children

disturbing local markets (see figure 3). Here Pxdenotes the world market price (export parity).Local procurement adds to national demand andwill shift the demand curve to the right,substituting commercial exports.PP XDemandExportDomesticproductionmuch highereffect ondemand. A WFP programme such as schoolfeeding, for example, would likely to have amarginal propensity to consume close to one;biscuits are distributed in small quantities on adaily basis and are consumed directly in theclassroom by the children. As long as thesebiscuits are not substituting meals received athome, wheat distributed through suchprogrammes would have no disincentive effects onlocal production.P lFigure 3PDemandP dDemand + localprocurementDomesticproduction + FoodaidQ dQBangladesh however, is not an exporter of foodgrains. There is a lack of established exportchannels, the rice is of mixed quality, and forwheat there is a large unmet demand within thecountry. Furthermore, due to outdated productiontechnology it is unlikely that Bangladesh would beable to produce an export surplus on a sustainedbasis at world market prices. Domesticprocurement on any large scale will therefore havean immediate affect on the domestic price withdetrimental consequences for the ultra poor.Because of this food aid imports will still berequired to overcome the gap between actual foodgrain demand and requirement of poorhouseholds. WGTFI (1994) estimates that it wouldcost US$ 1.3 – 2.6 billion per year to enable allpoor households in Bangladesh to purchaseenough food to meet their minimum caloricrequirement level. The challenge is therefore toincrease the amount of food aid that can beimported without depressing market prices. This iswhat the World Food Programme tries to achievethrough its targeted programmes. Wheat directlydistributed to poor households increases thedemand for wheat by increasing their purchasingpower. This is depicted in Figure 4 by an outwardshift of the demand curve compensating thenegative price effects of food aid imports.A study by IFPRI (March 2000) concludes that foreach 1 kg of wheat provided to Food For Workparticipants, their wheat consumption increases by0.3 kg (the marginal propensity to consume). It islikely that other targeted programmes have a-4-P mP dQ dQ tTargetedprogrammesFigure 4Through analyses undertaken by the VulnerabilityAnalysis and Mapping unit, WFP aims to improvethe targeting and design of its developmentprogrammes in such a way that they benefit theultra poor, minimizing any adverse affects it mayhave on local food grain markets.WFP BangladeshVulnerability Analysis & Mapping UnitConclusions:1. Although progress has been made in ensuringfood security at the national level this has notlead to improved food security at thehousehold level.2. The recent claim of food self-sufficiency iscontradicted by the continuation of widespreadunder-nutrition.3. Estimates based on consumption data providea more realistic picture of the food gap inBangladesh than the one based on productionfigures.Q

Bangladesh Food Security Brief4. For the foreseeable future food aid imports arerequired to ensure a certain level of foodsecurity among the extreme poor.5. Food aid need to be targeted to the extremepoor in an appropriate way to avoid anydisincentive effects it may have on localproduction.6. Naturally, people need more than just foodgrains for a healthy diet and there isconsiderable scope for increasing localproduction of other food items that arecurrently imported.References:BBS, Preliminary Report of Household Income & Expenditure Survey2000, December 2001.BBS, Report of the Poverty Monitoring Survey, May 1999IFPRI, Paul A. Dorosh, Food Aid and Producer Price Incentives,FMRSP Working Paper No.32, May 2001.IFPRI, Carlo Del Ninno and Paul A. Dorosh, In-kind Transfers andHousehold Food Consumption: Implications for Targeted FoodPrograms in Bangladesh, FMRSP Working Paper No.17, March 2000.Working Group on Targeted Food Interventions (WGTFI), Options forTargeting Food Interventions in Bangladesh, IFPRI, 1994.-5-

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