DHAKA, Bangladesh: How this poor developing country in South Asia is able to feed its people numbering around 170 million on a land area half the size of the Philippines has been a source of amazement and envy to me. Bangladesh is self-sufficient in rice, ranks No. 3 in the world in vegetable and onion production, first in freshwater fish production and seventh in potato production. In the late 1970s, its people suffered from famine as a result of natural calamities that struck the country and for a good part of the 1980s and early 1990s, its agricultural production was in doldrums. How did Bangladesh turn its fortune and found gold in agriculture?

I am currently in Bangladesh attending the 36th session of the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific. The participants mostly focused their concerns on the challenges posed by Covid-19 on the food security of the region. They are also worried about the increasing threat of climate change on the region's agricultural production. In addition, the participants stressed the imperative of meeting the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations on food security by a renewed emphasis on agriculture and food production and the application of digital technology in farming.

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