‘Legal and tax management are important to ensure supply of fresh vegetables and healthy food at low cost in the city’
Bangladesh is one of the world’s leading producers of vegetables and fruits, but the population of Bangladesh consumes fewer fresh fruits and vegetables than required. In this reality, the trend of less consumption of fruits and vegetables among people in Bangladesh is a matter of surprise. Research shows that tax reductions and subsidies are an important factor in encouraging healthy eating. Subsidy can be provided mainly in two ways, direct and indirect. But if it is not possible to identify the tax and subsidy areas, it will not be possible to reach the benefits to the people.
Speakers at the workshop entitled ‘Legal and tax management to ensure the supply of fresh vegetables and healthy food at low cost in the city’ organized by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Center for Law and Policy Affairs-CLPA and ARK Foundation and in collaboration with IDRC, on Tuesday, February 14, 2023, in the conference room of Fars Hotel in the capital, expressed this opinion.
Kazi jebunnesa begum, Additional Secretary (Global Health) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was present as the Chief Guest, AHM Shafikuzzaman, Director General (Additional Secretary) of National Consumer Rights Protection Directorate was also present as the special guest. Additional Secretary (Organization-2 Wing) of the Ministry of Shipping Bidhayak Roy Chowdhury, Director of Public Health Nutrition Institute Professor Dr. Shah Golam Nabi was also present. Welcome speech was given at the event, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health Services Sadekul Islam.
In the event, Dr Roman Haque, Executive Director, ARK Foundation, said that although there is sufficient production of agricultural products in Bangladesh, people are not able to buy them at a fair price. Urban transport, paying for subscriptions in the supply chain, extra cost of transport, lack of management of urban agriculture, lack of incentives for fresh-vegetables are increasing the price of fresh-vegetables in the city.
Advocate Syed Mahbubul Alam, Secretary, Center for Law and policy Affairs-CLPA said that in the existing policy, there was no specific commitment to provide any kind of broker or cooperation to ensure the supply of fresh vegetables in the city. Of the 31 laws analyzed in this study, other than the Agricultural Marketing Act, Consumer Rights Act, and Safe Food Act on fresh-vegetables, no involvement was found or clearly mentioned.
Director of Public Health Nutrition Institute Professor Dr. Shah Golam Nabi said, we have to eat good food to stay healthy. We have to ensure the quality of our food from production to delivery. I think more research is needed on existing laws and policies aimed at providing safe food. During the event, Additional Secretary (Organization-2 Wing) of the Ministry of Shipping Bidhayak Roy Chowdhury said that it is important to ensure quality stock in order to ensure the quality of our fresh fruits and roots. In order to facilitate the transportation of fresh fruits and vegetables, we will take necessary measures from the Ministry of Shipping.
Director General (Additional Secretary) of National Consumer Rights Protection said that if the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Local Government encourage citizens to have rooftop gardens, the products produced will play a role in reducing nutritional deficiency. Non-communicable diseases are increasing among us due to food. We need to ensure quality food to protect our health. Kazi jebunnesa begum, Additional Secretary (Global Health) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that in our Bangladesh Constitution, the development of the nutritional level of the people and the improvement of public health is one of the primary duties of the state. Due to malnutrition and unhealthy diet, we are suffering from various diseases. We need to ensure safe food to reduce diseases. Citizens should be made aware of the consumption of fresh vegetables. Farmers producing fresh vegetables need to ensure the right price of the produce.
Other guests in the meeting said in the recommendations, to look at the production process to ensure safe food, to ensure the supply of fresh vegetables at a low price, to formulate and implement urban agriculture policies to increase the supply of vegetables in the city, which will ensure the supply of fresh vegetables needed by the city dwellers at a low price. Storage/preservation system of fresh vegetables needs to be improved. So that the produce of the farmers does not get spoiled before it reaches the hands of the buyers. Special arrangements need to be made to transport vegetables including frozen transport and coordination of sea and rail should be ensured so that transportation can be done at low cost. Giving responsibility to local government bodies to support small/mobile vendors in marketing and distribution. Arrange direct/indirect outsourcing of transportation, storage, marketing process.
Among others, Shahjan Begum Neena Deputy Director (Policy and Planning) Directorate of Agricultural Marketing, Dr. AKM Shamim Alam Project Director, Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Mir Alamgir Hossain, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Railways etc. was present.
Publichealthlaws.net website was inaugurated in the meeting. Compilation of laws related to protection of public health is an important undertaking, non-communicable diseases, communicable diseases, health management, environmental laws related to health are covered here. Also, health and legal research, information on court orders are included here. The purpose of this web site is to highlight the importance of disease prevention. The website was inaugurated by Kazi jebunnesa begum, Additional Secretary (Global Health) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.