Climate-change impact is posing a severe threat to the country’s agriculture as well as overall economy, as annual GDP might shrink by 1.0-2.0 per cent for its consequences.
So, required investment (to handle climate-change impact) is crucial, as a funding of US$ 1.2 billion could save $11.6 billion by 2030, while it would be $59 billion by 2050.
Besides, close collaboration between private and public sectors is needed to formulate policies to combat the impact for ensuring the country’s future food security.
The observations were made by the speakers at a roundtable – “Climate Adaptation: Opportunities for Bangladesh in Development of Agro-based Industries”.
It was organised by the International Chamber of Commerce, Bangladesh (ICC,B), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) at a city hotel on Wednesday.
ICC,B President Mahbubur Rahman chaired the roundtable, where Agriculture Minister Dr. Muhammad Abdur Razzaque was the chief guest. Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md. Shahab Uddin attended the programme as the special guest.
SCB Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Naser Ezaz Bijoy, FAO Acting Representative in Bangla-desh Dr. Nur Khondaker, and CIRDAP Director General Dr. Cherdsak Virapat also spoke.
Dr Razzaque, in his speech, pointed out that a vast area of the country might be submerged by sea water within next few decades.
He said the National Adaptation Plan of Bangladesh 2023-2050 lists development of agro-processing industries based on climate sensitive crop-zoning as a core intervention area.
“Promotion of mini processing factories close to the production areas will contribute to building the capacity of our small farm holders, promote local agrifood value chain development, and contribute to lowering the global carbon footprint.”
Use of digital technology in all stages of the agrifood value chain from production to post-harvest management would help to enhance efficiency.
The use of ICT for agriculture and market linkage is being expanded to enable critical flow of information and advisory services to farmers for fair price with profit margin, he added.
Environment Minister Shahab Uddin said agro-forestry plays an essential role in climate adaptation by promoting biodiversity, enhancing soil health, and reducing impacts of natural disasters.
“Integrating agro-forestry practices into our agricultural landscape can foster resilience and sustainability while addressing climate change challenges,” he opined.
ICCB President Mahbubur Rahman emphasised dynamic expansion of a sustainable agro-processing industry to keep the economy as well as agriculture sector vibrant in a changing climatic condition.
He said Bangladesh is responsible for only 0.4 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. But it is high on the list of the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change.
Given the current trajectory, the rapidly changing climate conditions would trigger annual GDP loss in the range of 1.0-2.0 per cent. Besides, there are lasting consequences for food security due to loss of arable land (up to 1.75 per cent every year), for education due to breakdown of school infrastructure, for health due to high salinity and water logging, and for livelihood due to loss of income and assets.
Mr Rahman mentioned that agricultural exports from Bangladesh have been growing at over 18 per cent for the last five years.
The global demand for agricultural items is also expected to grow by 15 per cent between 2019-2028, which provides a great opportunity to local food-processing industry to expand its exports and help the country diversify exports.
He also said the ICC has established Agri-Food Hub (AFH), a collaborative ecosystem within the ICC network, bringing together businesses, institutions, experts, and academia in the agribusiness sector. It promotes multilateralism, sustainable development, and responsible practices to enhance global trade in the agri-food industry.
The AFH has established partnerships with renowned institutions, including the FAO, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Farmers Organization (WFO), World Food Programme (WFP), and Inter-American Institute for Agriculture Cooperation (IICA). These partnerships further enhance the AFH’s ability to facilitate connections and provide valuable resources to its members, he added.
Naser Ezaz Bijoy said it is critical for the world to come together to contain the temperature increase to 1.5 Celsius and also adopt net zero transition plan to address the impact of climate change.
“But we need to prepare ourselves, as the impact will be on our shores.”
While mitigation is being widely talked about, adaptation is a less-talked-about topic. Bangladesh has been highly respected for the government’s disaster response preparedness. But time has come for public-private partnership (in this regard), as the need is not only significant but also changing, the SCB CEO noted.
As the country moves forward, a close collaboration among the private sector, civil society and international development partners to achieve climate adaptation goals is essential, he added.
Nur Khondaker said stepping up from subsistence agriculture, Bangladesh is desperately looking for entering into the commercialisation stage of agriculture transformation.
“There are multiple routes for that, where sustainable agro-based industry development is essential, and agro-processing is one of these.”
‘Strategic roadmap of agro-processing sector development in Bangladesh’ has been drafted through extensive consultation with various stakeholders, he added.
SCB Head of Corporate Affairs, Brand and Marketing Bitopi Das Chowdhury made a presentation on adaptation economy, which said early investments can provide higher cost avoidance in future.
Managing Director and CEO of ACI Agrolink Limited and ACI Motors Limited Dr. F. H. Ansarey made a presentation on technical and machinery development for agro industries.
FAO Senior National Lead Agronomist Dr. Md. Abdul Kader made a presentation on seed production, agro inputs, cold chain, and access to market.
Additional Secretary to Ministry of Agriculture Dr. Ruhul Amin Talukder presented the keynote paper.
Bangladesh Bank Executive Director Md. Khurshid Alam, CIMMYT Agricultural Economist Dr. T. S. Amjath Babu, Bengal Meat CEO A. F. M. Asif, and FAO Lead National Agronomist Dr. Md. Abdul Kader were the panel speakers.
The roundtable was also attended, among others, by ICC,B Vice President A. K. Azad and its Executive Board Members Abdul Hai Sarker, Kutubuddin Ahmed and Md. Fazlul Hoque, Green Delta Insurance Company Ltd CEO Farzana Chowdhury, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Director Edimon Ginting, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Resident Representative Jayendu De, World Bank Senior Environment Specialist EunJoo Allison Yi, UNDP Assistant Resident Representative Prasenjit Chakma, IFAD Programme Officer Dr. Shantonu Abe, UNICEF Bangladesh WASH Specialist Raphael Nwozor,
BIBM Supernumerary Professor Md. Ahsan Ullah, Pubali Bank Former Managing Director Helal Ahmed Chowdhury, NCC Bank Managing Director and CEO Mohammad Mamdudur Rashid, Eastern Bank Limited Additional Managing Director Ahmed Shaheen, A. K. Khan and Company Ltd Chief Executive Officer K. A. M. Majedur Rahman, Arlinks Limited Managing Director Imran Faiz Rahman, Nippon Express Bangladesh Managing Director Kazuhiro Kobayakawa, and PS to Agriculture Minister Mohammad Razib Siddique.