Italy has shown interest to employ more Bangladeshi manpower particularly in its agriculture and hospitality sectors as three Italian ministers called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the sidelines of the UN Food Systems Summit in Rome, Italy.

“Italy wants to hire more workers from Bangladesh for its hospitality and agriculture sectors,” Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen quoted the Italian ministers as telling 

the premier at their meetings at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters.

Momen briefed the reporters after Italy’s Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida, Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi and Justice Minister Carlo Nordio have meetings with the Bangladesh prime minister on Monday.

Momen said the issue of undocumented workers also featured the meetings as the Italian ministers and the Bangladesh premier put on stress on maintaining proper channel in going to abroad.

The Bangladesh prime minister said her country always discourage illegal workers.

Mentioning that both documented and undocumented workers are contributing to the economies of Italy and also Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina urged the Italian government to legalize the well-mannered and skilled undocumented workers.

Momen said, “Italy is very happy that Bangladesh is always supportive in migration of workers in legal ways”.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina earlier had a bilateral meeting with her Nepalese counterpart Pushpa Kamal Dahal at the newly opened Bangladesh-Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Room in the FAO headquarters on the sidelines of the UN Food Systems Summit.

In the meeting, the premier offered Nepal to use the newly constructed Pyra port.

“Bangladesh has already opened the Chalna and Chattogram ports for Nepal. Nepal can use the newly constructed Pyra port as well,” Momen quoted the prime minister as saying.

The premier said Bangladesh is developing Sayedpur airport as a regional hub to enhance the connectivity.

The Nepalese prime minister highly praised Bangladesh for its development and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for successfully running her country.

“You (Sheikh Hasina) are a leader of our region,” Dahal said.

He also said there is a huge scope of hydroelectricity generation in Nepal.

In this context, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh will take steps to import more renewable energy particularly hydroelectricity after the beginning of first trilateral power trade from Nepal to Bangladesh through India for 40megawatt power.

Dahal mentioned that a good number of Nepalese students are pursuing their study in Bangladesh.

In another meeting with International Fund of Agricultural Development (IFAD) President Alvaro Lario at the FAO headquarters, Sheikh Hasina sought IFAD’s assistance to boost wheat and edible oil production in Bangladesh.

According to Momen, the Bangladesh prime minister also called on the IFAD to help Bangladesh in marketing small agro-enterprises and building an efficient food storage system.

World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Cindy Hensley McCain, as well, met Sheikh Hasina at the FAO headquarters.

At the meeting, the Bangladesh prime minister asked the WFP to raise funds particularly for displaced Rohingyas who took shelter in Bangladesh as per capita fund for Rohingyas declined to US$ 8 from US$ 12.

She said Bangladesh has successfully increased food production thanks to her government’s various steps since assuming power.

Bangladesh is in a good position in producing not only crops but also fishes and other foods, she added.

Cindy Hensley McCain is the wife of former US presidential candidate John McCain who adopted a three-month Bangladeshi girl in the early 1990s.

The prime minister along with other heads of government and states also attended a reception hosted by Director General of Food and Agriculture Organization Qu Dongyu at the FAO headquarters.

Bangladesh also signed an agreement with WFP to expand and improve school feeding programme for primary school students in an event attended by Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen.

Bangladesh government introduced a school feeding system in 2010 and now some 23 lakh students of 15,000 primary schools in 104 upazilas are getting meals under the programme.

In line with the new agreement, the school feeding programme will be expanded to more than 150 upazilas, raising the number of beneficiary students to 37 lakh as fruits, milk, bread, eggs and other nutritious foods will be served instead of fortified biscuits.

Thanks to the feeding programme, the dropout rate has declined by 7.5 percent and the enrolment rate has increased by 14 percent in the primary schools, said Momen.

Moreover, Bangladesh has become the 85th member of the School Meals Coalition at an event here on Monday.

PM’s Speechwriter Md Nazrul Islam and Bangladesh Ambassador to Italy Md Shameem Ahsan were present at the briefing.

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