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Bangladesh facing severe food shortages

Many of the poorest people in Bangladesh, still reeling from the disasters that hit the country last year, could now face an acute food crisis.

Cyclone Sidr, which struck last November, caused over two million acres of crops to be damaged or totally destroyed, including the destruction of some 1.23 million tonnes of rice, the staple diet to most Bangladeshis. Severe flooding during the summer also caused huge agricultural damage, resulting in nearly 2.6 million tonnes of agricultural produce being lost.

As a result of this, according to the agriculture ministry in Bangladesh, an estimated 60 million people living on less than a dollar a day are now facing severe hunger. The Bangladesh Army Chief General Moeen U Ahmed has expressed concern over the shortage of rice in the country. “The country is facing a catastrophe over rice supplies”, Ahmed said.

The destruction of crops has also been a factor in the recent rise in the price of food in Bangladesh, particularly that of rice. This is compounding the problem for Bangladesh’s poorest, who are finding it increasingly difficult to afford even the most basic amounts of food to feed their families. A recent article written by human rights defender Rater Zonaki contains a quote from Muhammad Yunus Bahari, a senior teacher of a school in Chittagong, the second largest city in Bangladesh. Muhammad says "The price of rice is so high that it is beyond my capacity. We are forced to eat only one meal a day, but the problems are with the children: they cannot starve like the adults."