A food riot/crisis looms as coronavirus forces farmers to stay idle and supply chain has been broken down for social distancing compliance.

Large-scale lockdowns to contain the virus outbreak have hurt the supply of manpower and disrupted supply chains in the agriculture industry.

Given the creeping onset of what could be a dispersed famine, experts fear that Bangladesh may soon find itself in the midst of food riots and civil crisis if circulation is not eased.

 “As of today and till next week, disruptions are minimal as food supplies have been adequate. The government has 1.7 million in its buffer stock. But price spikes are more likely from next month, Dr M Asaduzzaman, research director of BIDS told Business Mirror Saturday night.

“I appeal to the god for forgiving us from the curse but a food riot is looming and situation like 74 may be repeated as well, Mr. Asaduzzaman said.

The coronavirus outbreak could affect food security as the pandemic disrupts labor availability and the supply chain Mr. Asaduzzaman said adding disruptions can be expected from next week and May.

Restrictions on movements and “basic aversion behaviour” by workers could impede farming, said Dr. Atiur Rahman, Former Bangladesh Bank Governor and expert on poverty said.

Dr. Atiur, who has worked extensively on starvation, fears rural Bangladesh will be in a lot of pain with the reverse flow of migrants  unless emergency measures are taken.

 “Several new ideas from out of box should be introduced like introduction of heavy harvesters in the ongoing season to avert social distancing” said Dr. Atiur.

“It’s a mess of epic proportions and complex nature—a maze of contradictions. The COVID-19 lockdown—national, and even global in its sheer sweep—has brought a screaming shortage of food across the country,” Dr. Zafrullah, a veteran freedom fighter said.

“At the same time, paradoxically, Bangladesh has more than enough food to feed her citizens. In the darkest of ironies, the buffer stock of food grain—i.e. the stock in storage—is three times the mandatory requirement. On top of that, there are indications of a bumper crop this season. So the food is there. But herein comes the real knot in the puzzle. How does one get the tiger, the goat and the bundle of grass across the river?,” Dr. Zafrullah explained.

Veteran administrator Dr. Akber Ali Khan said the signs of an ominous food crisis in rural areas are already there. Most rural households—barring the land-owning ones—may run out of food in a few days, given the number of family members returning home from cities.

Dr. Mostafizur Rahman has been refraining from making any comments on the issue. “About food riot he said we don’t have any research on that”.


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