The climate change impact is posing a severe threat to the country's agriculture as well as to the overall economy as annual GDP is set to shrink by 1-2 percent for its consequences.
Required investment is crucial as investment of US $ 1.2 billion within 2030 could save $11.6 billion by 2030, while the savings will be $59 billion by 2050.
The observations were made by speakers at the roundtable styled “Climate Adaptation: Opportunities for Bangladesh in Development of Agro-based Industries,” organised by the International Chamber of Commerce, Bangladesh (ICCB), UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Standard Chartered Bank at a city hotel on Wednesday.
ICCB President Mahbubur Rahman chaired the event, while Agriculture Minister Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, attended the roundtable as the Chief Guest. Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin was the Special Guest.
Standard Chartered Bank Chief Executive Officer Naser Ezaz Bijoy, FAO Representative in Bangladesh Dr. Nur Khondaker, CIRDAP Director General Dr Cherdsak Virapat also spoke.
Panelists also said a close collaboration between the private and public sector is needed to formulate policy to combat the climate change impacts for ensuring future food security of the country.
In his address as Chief Guest, Dr. Razzaque pointed out that a vast area of the country might unfortunately be inundated by sea water within the next few decades.
He said the National Adaptation Plan of Bangladesh 2023-2050 lists development of agro food processing industries based on climate sensitive crop-zoning as a core intervention area.
"Promotion of mini-processing factories close to the production area, will contribute to building the capacity of our large majority of smallholder farm men and women, promote local agrifood value chain development and contribute to lowering the global carbon footprint," said the minister.
Use of digital technology in all stages of the agrifood value chain from production to post harvest management will help to enhance efficiency. The use of ICT for agriculture and market linkages is being expanded to enable critical flow of information and advisory services to farmers in rural and urban areas for fair price with profit margin, he said.
ICC Bangladesh President Mahbubur Rahman, while chairing the programme, emphasized on the dynamic expansion of a sustainable agro-processing industry to keep the economy as well as agriculture vibrant in a changing climatic condition.
He said Bangladesh is responsible for only 0.4 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which is insignificant compared to other mega industrial economies, but Bangladesh is high on the list of countries most vulnerable to climate change.
Given the current trajectory, the rapidly changing climate conditions will trigger annual GDP losses, in the range of 1.0 to 2.0 per cent. Beyond these macro implications, there are lasting consequences for food security due to the loss of arable land (up to 1.75 per cent every year), for education due to the breakdown of school infrastructure, for health due to high salinity and water logging, and for livelihood due to loss of income and assets, said Rahman.
He also mentioned that the agricultural exports from Bangladesh have been growing over 18 percent for the last five years.
The global demand for agricultural products is also expected to grow by 15 percent between 2019-2028 which provides a great opportunity to the Bangladesh processed food industry to expand its exports and help the country in its effort to diversify export, he said.
He also said ICCB has established Agri-Food Hub (AFH), a collaborative ecosystem within the ICC network, bringing together businesses, institutions, experts, and academia in the agribusiness sector. It promotes multilateralism, sustainable development, and responsible practices to enhance global trade in the agri-food industry.
Standard Chartered Bank Chief Executive Officer Naser Ezaz Bijoy said, “As per the government’s National Adaptation Plan, the funding required in this area is USD 230 billion. This investment cannot be done by the government and multilaterals alone. There needs to be close partnership with the private sector, and also the capital market to leverage this and ensure that we have adequate funding early, to have the biggest benefit of that. That’s why I think it is important we have this conversation now, so that we can address future problems ahead of time.”
Two approaches to address climate change are mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation addresses the causes of climate change and adaptation addresses the impact. Mitigation reduces the emission (Energy efficiency/ renewable/ Electric Vehicles/ Circularity/emission tax etc) while Adaptation reduces vulnerability (secured infrastructure/cyclone shelter/re-forestation/flexible agriculture, said the SCB CEO.
While mitigation is being widely talked about, adaptation is less talked about. That does not mean that the government of Bangladesh is not doing work on adaptation, on the contrary, Bangladesh has been highly respected for the government’s disaster response preparedness especially against cyclone shelters in coastal areas and also response to flood. But time has come that this requires public private partnership, because need is not only significant but also changing, he added.
Environment Minister Shahab Uddin said agroforestry plays an essential role in climate adaptation by promoting biodiversity, enhancing soil health, and reducing the impacts of natural disasters.
"Integrating agroforestry practices into our agricultural landscape can foster resilience and sustainability while addressing climate change challenges," he said.
As the country moves forward, a close collaboration among the private sector, civil society, and international development partners to achieve climate adaptation goals is essential, he said.
FAO Acting Representative Nur Khondaker said stepping up from subsistence agriculture, Bangladesh is desperately looking for entering the commercialization stage of agriculture transformation.
"There are multiple routes for that where sustainable agro-based industry development is essential, agro processing is one of them, " he said.
He also said the FAO is supporting the Ministry of Agriculture on development of this sector.
“Strategic roadmap of agro-processing sector development in Bangladesh has been drafted through extensive consultation with stakeholders,” he added.
Standard Chartered’s Head of Corporate Affairs, Brand & Marketing Bitopi Das Chowdhury presented a keynote paper on Adaptation Economy.
She said, “Investments of $1.2 billion between now and 2030 will be able to add $11.6 billion by 2030 and $59 billion by 2050 to our GDP. We must urgently recognise that adaptation is a shared necessity, and as our Adaptation Economy research so effectively highlights, inaction creates a shared societal burden of exponentially increasing cost.”
Managing Director and CEO of ACI Agrolink Limited & ACI Motors Limited Dr. F.H. Ansarey made a presentation on Technical & Machinery Development for Agro Industries.
Senior National Lead Agronomist, UN-FAO Dr Md Abdul Kader made a presentation on Seed production, Agro inputs, Cold chain, Access to Market.
ICCB Vice President A K Azad, its secretary general Ataur Rahman, its executive board members including Abdul Hai Sarker, Kutubuddin Ahmed, Md Fazlul Hoque were also at the event.
Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture Dr Ruhul Amin Talukder presented the Keynote Paper. He outlined the plan of the Agriculture Ministry for the development of agro-based industries in Bangladesh.
The panel speakers were: Md. Khurshid Alam, Executive Director-Bangladesh Bank; Dr. T. S Amjath Babu, Agricultural Economist-CIMMYT; Dr. F.H. Ansarey, Managing Director and CEO - ACI Agrolink Limited; A.F.M. Asif, CEO -Bengal Meat; Dr. Md. Abdul Kader, Lead National Agronomist at FAO.
The Roundtable was also attended, among other by ICC Bangladesh Executive Board Members, namely,. Abdul Hai Sarker; Kutubuddin Ahmed and Md. Fazlul Hoque; Green Delta Insurance Company CEO Farzana Chowdhury; Mr. Edimon Ginting, Country Director, Asian Development Bank (ADB); Dr. Cherdsak Virapat, Director General, Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP); Mr. Jayendu De, Resident Representative , International Monetary Fund( IMF); s Eun Joo Allison Yi, Senior Environment Specialist of World Bank, Mr. Prasenjit Chakma, Assistant Resident Representative –UNDP; Dr. Shantonu Abe , Programme Officer-IFAD; Mr. Raphael Nwozor, WASH-UNICEF Bangladesh; Mr. Md. Ahsan Ullah, Supernumerary Professor, BIBM, & Former Executive Director Bangladesh Bank; Mr. Helal Ahmed Chowdhury, Former Managing Director , Pubali Bank ; Mr. Ahmed Shaheen, Additional Managing Director , Eastern Bank Limited; Mr. Mohammad Razib Siddique, PS to the Honorable Agriculture Minister; Mr. Mohammad Mamdudur Rashid, Managing Director & CEO-NCC Bank; Mr. K A M Majedur Rahman, Chief Executive Officer, A. K. Khan & Company Ltd.; Mr. Imran Faiz Rahman, Managing Director, Arlinks Limited and Mr. Kazuhiro Kobayakawa Managing Director, Nippon Express Bangladesh among others.