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Cablegate: Bangladesh: An Ideal Feed the Future Focus Country

VZCZCXRO9079
OO RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHLH RUEHNEH RUEHPW
DE RUEHKA #0086/01 0270840
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 270840Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9943
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 000086

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR C CHERYL MILLS, SCA
DEPT PASS TO USAID FOR RAJIV SHAH

E.O. 12958: DECL: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ECON EAID PREL PGOV SOCI KPAO BG

SUBJECT: BANGLADESH: AN IDEAL FEED THE FUTURE FOCUS COUNTRY

REF: DHAKA 26

SUMMARY
-------

1. Bangladesh is an ideal candidate to serve as the Asian focus
country for the USG's Feed the Future (FTF) Initiative. This Muslim
majority nation of more than 150 million people, where poverty and
malnutrition rates remain high, places a very high priority on
ensuring food security. The effects of global climate change on
agriculture will further compound the food security challenges here.
Food security in Bangladesh also has implications for the stability
of South Asia and the United States. Despite many obstacles,
Bangladesh has made major strides to improve food security since
independence, achieving near self-sufficiency in rice production.
An FTF program in Bangladesh has a high probability of success,
given the will of the Government of Bangladesh and existing USG
programs.

THE NEEDS ARE GREAT
-------------------

2. Tens of millions of people in Bangladesh are chronically food
insecure. According to the World Bank, roughly 40 million
Bangladeshis live in extreme poverty while malnutrition affects
nearly 40 percent of Bangladeshi children under 5 years old. Most
Bangladeshis live on an economic precipice.

3. Bangladesh's agriculture and food security also face some of the
harshest effects of global climate change. As a low-lying coastal
country which serves as the delta for three major river systems,
Bangladesh is vulnerable to increasingly frequent and severe
tropical cyclones which affect agriculture. The cyclones contribute
to rising salinity of soil and water which affects agriculture and
food security in sizable areas of southwestern Bangladesh.

ADVANCING U.S. SECURITY INTERESTS
---------------------------------

4. These food security challenges have major political and
stability ramifications. The Government of Bangladesh (GOB),
regardless of the political party in power, must constantly monitor
for imminent major threats to food supplies or accessibility. The
GOB, as a matter of political survival, continually strives to
improve the food security and economic well-being of its citizens.
Food security programs can also contribute to enhanced regional
cooperation. After the Prime Minister's recent visit to India, the
two countries are looking at food security as a key area for
enhanced bilateral cooperation. By fostering this trend, our food
security program will pay dividends across a wide range of issues,
including U.S. national security priorities.

5. Studies conducted by the USG and others directly link economic
security to vulnerability to extremism. Most Bangladeshis only turn
to extremism in the absence of legitimate economic opportunities.
The current GOB is committed to stopping terrorism and extremism
within its borders and to working with the United States, India and
others to combat transnational terrorism. We need to give them all
possible tools to reduce this threat.

BUILDING ON EXISTING PROGRAMS
-----------------------------

6. The need for expanded food security programs is matched by
Bangladesh's commitment to feed its population. The GOB has
recently conducted several analyses of food security and identifies
it as the top priority of the government. The government has
developed a country-led food policy and plan of action that will
serve as the basis for Feed the Future programs. Bangladesh has a
long history of progress on food security. While its population has
doubled since independence, Bangladesh went from importing half the
food it was consuming in the 1970's to virtual self-sufficiency in
rice today. Moreover, although chronic malnutrition remains
widespread, the GOB, with USG support, has developed safety net
programs that now prevent a recurrence of the mass starvation of the
1970's.

7. Furthermore, the USG already has a range of programs underway in
Bangladesh that address food security, including in the areas of
agriculture, nutrition and climate change. We are well-positioned
to build on and expand these programs to support the GOB in its
efforts to make a momentous leap forward on food security. We
created an Embassy-wide food security task force last year to
utilize the distinct strengths of State, USAID, DOD and USDA offices
and apply the whole-of-government approach in preparing our food
security proposal (reftel).


DHAKA 00000086 002 OF 002


COMMENT
-------

8. This environment bodes well for creating a successful Feed the
Future program. Given the long-term nature of this challenge, it is
in our interest to focus the initiative in countries where we have
the maximum chances for success. If we truly want to effect
meaningful change to the problem of hunger, we need to create
partnerships with strong candidate countries. Bangladesh is clearly
one of those countries.

MORIARTY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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