This report was created to provide background for a consultation workshop focused on approaches to enhancing nutrition security with safe vegetables and fruits. The workshop was held in August 2011 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Even though the nutritional status of children and women in Bangladesh is very poor and needs special attention in order to improve the overall health status of the population, continuing low consumption of fruits and vegetables has been observed. Despite various interventions designed under National Nutrition Program (NNP), the low birth weight, malnutrition, dehydration from diarrhea, continue to be important contributing cause of childhood mortality. The estimated number of deaths due to diarrhea was about 45,000 in 2004 (HNPSP 2008), which can be attributed to food borne illnesses. Although Bangladesh has accomplished food security, household nutrition security will depend upon the per capita consumption of balanced nutritious food. It is essential that resource poor communities secure affordable and safe food that is nutritionally rich. Even with requisite quantum of production at the farm gate, the nutrition security can be seriously impacted if the food produced is not safe to be consumed or treated for post harvest processing needs. Horticultural interventions to enhance food safety at farm level combined with extensive nutrition and food safety education can offer a long‐term food‐based strategy to control and eliminate micronutrient malnutrition in the resource poor people. Horticultural production is relatively easy for unskilled people and it can play an important role in poverty alleviation programs and food security initiatives by providing work and income opportunities.
The government of Bangladesh has identified food safety in horticulture produce as an important area which needs immediate strategic interventions. Bangladesh mission along with other leading regional institutions such as Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) collectively felt the need to address food safety issues in the Bangladesh horticulture sector more seriously and this was shared with the USAID mission through a report. This report highlighted the following seven major areas which require immediate strategic interventions to address the key constraints hindering the growth of the horticulture sector in Bangladesh:
- Crop yield improvement
- Seed delivery system
- Postharvest technology
- Food safety and adoption of GAP
- Food processing and value addition
- Market linkage
- Extension education