The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic situation has aggravated the global food security and ecosystem management forcing many people to starve in many countries across the world, according to agricultural scientists.
They have stressed the need for ensuring proper management of the ecosystems and recycling of the nutrient biomass to achieve the target of the SDGs fearing that the worsening situation might impede achieving the related Sustainable Development Goals.
The observations and recommendations came from a national seminar on “Food Security and Ecosystem Management in COVID-19” recently held in Dhaka.
They recommended for adopting a comprehensive emergency response plan to address food security, health and socio-economic recovery measures in COVID-19.
The virtual seminar was organized by the IUBAT Institute of SDG Studies (IISS) and Reginal Centre of Expertise (RCE) Greater Dhaka, International University of Business Agriculture and Technology, Bangladesh.
For food and nutrient security, the policy recommendations said that all ecosystems especially the wet-bodies viz. rivers, canals, lakes, beels and jheels etc., and floodplains, croplands and rural homes of the country should be made functional, productive and free from pollution and encroachment.
“Soil survey for all Upazilla should be done in every 10 years to ascertain soil status and must bring under a model and biological survey including plants, animals and microbial population should also be done for every Upazilla and should bring under model.”
The policy recommendations said that all septic tanks must be cleaned regularly and the biomass should be recycled. Fecal materials should not drain out from the toilets or septic tanks and all tanks must be cleaned within every two years.
All domestic solid wastes should be segregated at source into 1. green garbage, 2. paper, 3. metal and glasses and 4. plastics and polythene to facilitate recycling and reuse,”
All industrial effluents or waste waters must be treated before disposal; clean and fresh treated water only be allowed to drain out into the wet bodies.
A proper statistic for crop production, chemical fertilizer uses vis-à-vis annual consumption and biomass recycling should be undertaken.
Farmer and Consumer-oriented Production, Processing and Marketing System, should be operated to lead a comprehensive recovery and increase preparedness for dealing with food insecurity.
To save the varieties and species, climatic adaptation must be respected. Climatic adaptation of crops and domestic animals should be studied.
To maintain a balance between the production of marine diversity and industrial activities: SDGs promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystem and citizens sustainability that needs to manage forest combating deforestation and rescue land degradation and save biodiversity.
In his presentation, IUBAT Professor Dr. Mohammed Ataur Rahman emphasized on the importance of healthy and functional ecosystems to ensure the food and nutrient security. He explained the productivity of the earth ecosystems; their criteria for production in different regions which are the basis for distribution of global food and population.
He claimed that human intervention has changed most of the ecosystems; quick and unplanned urbanization, industrialization, infrastructure, dams and agricultural expansion etc. are the important. “These resulted in the obstruction of hydrological cycle, changes of water flows, landscapes and pollution and thus, hampered the productivity and nutrient recycling in the ecosystems.”
He compared the increment of food production and population worldwide since 2000 to 2018 and claimed that average food production increased by 50% against population increment which is only 24% but under-nourished population remained unchanged rather malnutrition related obesity and diabetic population alarmingly increased which is more than 2.5 billion.
In the keynote paper, he drew the attention highlighting the present situation of the polluted and damaged river ecosystems around Dhaka city, economic, social and environmental losses incurring every year.
The physiochemical and microbiological parameters from different sources were shown for causing the harmful situation of the river waters: not usable, recyclable and loss of biomass nutrients with the contaminated water. The loss of services accounts for water: 1,149,750 million liters value BDT 45,990 million; fish: 23,885.6 tons value in BDT 4,777 million and biomass-nutrients 1,716,960 tons worth BDT 8,585 million, every year. Besides these, other services like drainage of water are seriously obstructed causing floods and waterlogging damage infrastructure; loss of urban and peri-urban crops; transmission of waterborne diseases and loss of biodiversity.
He also explained the fate of food: biomass and nutrients in the urban centers. The foods are coming from the agricultural fields, farms, forests and seas consumed by the urban people; the wastes are remained in the latrines or septic tanks years together, overflows and ultimately pollute rivers and the kitchen refusals are also dumped in the wetlands for landfilling or drain to the polluted rivers.
Professor Rahman pointed out the importance of ecosystems for food, biomass recycling, water and sanitation, biodiversity, climate change in SDGs 2030, specifically in SDG 2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, SDG 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, SDG 6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, SDG 13 Climate Action: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, SDG 14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development and SDG 15 Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.