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Policy makers, enforcement authorities must work together for a nutrition city

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Ensuring food safety and security to improve nutritional status is not the job of one company. Stakeholders say the ecosystem requires coordination of the work of multiple parties.

Both policy-making bodies and enforcement authorities need to work together to improve people’s nutrition, they said at a roundtable in the capital on Saturday.

Entitled “Creating Nutrition-Critical Cities: The Role of Multisectoral Platforms,” the event was jointly organized with the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), a Swiss-based non-profit international development organization. It was jointly organized by the country’s leading business newspaper, The Business Standard.

Md Farhad Zamil, Country Director of SFSA Bangladesh, said better coordination between the city’s business and food safety authorities could make a big difference in ensuring food safety.

Dr. Hasan Shariar Kabir, Executive Director of the Bangladesh National Nutrition Council, said nutrition plans are needed in urban slums to address the nutritional situation in urban areas.

“We already have some programs that need to be promoted,” he said, adding that nutrition isn’t about food. In fact, it’s the complete package of life.

Abdul Khayom Sarkar, chairman of the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority, said in comments that there are about 18 organizations working on safe and nutritious food.

“But we are now taking initiatives to bring all the organizations together on a single platform and strengthen coordination between them,” he said.

Regarding the food vulnerability of urban dwellers, Abdul Khayom Sarkar said, “Urban people generally play the role of consumers rather than producers. In that case, it’s very difficult to make it safe again at the consumer’s end.”

It recommends making food supply chains shorter and simpler, saying, “In European countries, food and agricultural products are delivered directly from producers to markets and shops. , the chain needs to be shortened.”

The roundtable is part of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s “Nutrition in Urban Ecosystems” project, launched in Bangladesh in August 2021.

Helen Prytherch, Head of the Health System Unit at Swiss TPH, made a presentation at the project briefing.

Hamidul Haque Khan, Chief Executive Officer of HK Consulting, a keynote speaker at the roundtable, said the degree of malnutrition in urban areas is higher than in rural areas.

“If you live in a city, if you turn right or left in a store, whether it’s a supermarket or a small vendor shop, you end up with something on the shelf,” he said.

“We, all the inhabitants of the city, are either helpless or vulnerable.”

Speaking on the role of multi-sectoral platforms in creating nutrition-critical cities, Hamidul Hake Khan said that all stakeholders in society have their strengths and weaknesses.

“We need to leverage these strengths and create collaboration among all stakeholders,” he added.

Authorities such as the Ministry of Food, the Directorate General of Food, the Ministry of Social Welfare, the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce are the key stakeholders responsible for making healthy eating affordable.

He recommended a nutrition-critical city solution and said that cooperation between government ministries is essential to develop a policy framework for the city’s food system.

As a panelist, Kondakar Golam Moazem, Research Director of the Center for Policy Dialogue, said that as Bangladesh is transitioning into a developing country, a transition is also needed in terms of food intake in terms of food security and safety. said it is.

On stakeholder coordination, he suggested that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture also coordinate with local and international non-governmental organizations.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is working on the Dhaka Food System Project to develop the Capital’s Food Agenda 2041 by mapping the city’s food system and challenges.

Xavier Bouan, FAOBD Senior Technical Advisor (Food Systems), said FAOBD does not belong to one ministry or organization, but multiple stakeholders are involved in the chain.

Md Abdul Wadud, executive director of the Bangladesh Institute on Applied Nutrition, Ministry of Agriculture, said favoritism is a nutritional issue despite self-sufficiency in all types of food except milk.

“However, the government is trying to cover this through safety net programs, but this is also not enough to cover everyone.

Md Shahid Uddin Akbar, chief executive officer of the Bangladesh ICT Development Institute, said the ecosystem behind securing nutritious food is complex.

“We need to change the ecosystem through healthy lifestyle behavior and adoption,” he said.

In particular, SB Naseem, Managing Director of Winall Hitcech Seed BD Ltd. Dr. Khaleda Islam, Director of Institute of Nutrition and Food Sciences, University of Dhaka and Md Eyamin, Staff Correspondent of Business Standard, spoke on the programme.