Consumption of edible oil increasing
by Chapal Bashar
Though it is still far below the required level prescribed by the nutritional experts, the per capita consumption of oil and fat in Bangladesh has been increasing gradually.
The per capita consumption of oil and fat recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is 21 kg a year for maintaining nutritional requirements of the human body. However, the present world average of per capita consumption of oil and fat stands at 16 kg.
In Bangladesh, the per capita consumption of oil and fat remained far below the world average and was hovering in between five and six kg for a long time.
The consumption of oil and fat in this country showed substantial changes from the beginning of the year 1999 and at the end of this year the per capita consumption has been estimated at over 7 kg. Country’s nutritional experts described such increase as very encouraging, which, according to them, would have positive impact on national health.
In our neighbouring countries, consumption of oil and fat is already higher than Bangladesh. In India and Pakistan, per capita consumption of oil and fat has been estimated at 11 kg and 16 kg respectively.
As the oil is a compact source of energy, its regular consumption at required level is essential for normal growth of human body.
Besides, vitamin A, B, E and K are absorbed in our body through oil. "Accordingly, about 25 to 30 per cent of our daily calories intake should come from oil", experts maintain.
"The consumption of oil and fat in Bangladesh has been increasing due to increased level of awareness of the consumers about health and nutrition", say experts pointing out that more and more edible oil is also available in the country now.
Once upon a time, edible oil, mainly mustard oil was available in plenty in this country and the local production of mustard oil and some other varieties of edible oil could meet domestic need.
But the scenario has changed some decades ago when the farmers reduced cultivation of mustard seeds and switched over to other crops for better financial benefits. And, thus, the country became largely dependant on import of edible oil from various sources to meet domestic requirement since the early sixties.
Soyabean oil, palm oil and rape/mustard oil are the major varieties of edible oil now being imported to Bangladesh. According to official statistics, the volume of import of edible oil in Bangladesh has been increasing steadily over the last six years.
In 1996, a total of 440,000 tonnes of edible oil were imported to Bangladesh, but in 2000, the import volume increased to 851,000 tonnes. In 2001, the import volume of edible oil is expected to be more than that of last year.
Presently, about US$300 million is being spent annually for import of oil and fat.
Total import of edible oil and fat in Bangladesh during January-November 2001 period reached to an ever record quantity of 886,000 tonnes, of which 414,000 tonnes was soyabean oil, 333,000 tonnes palm oil and 97,000 tonnes rape/mustard oil and other oil and fat as per available statistics.
Import of edible oil and fat showed an increase of 22 per cent compared to corresponding period of 2000.
During the period, import of palm oil witnessed substantial increase of 121 per cent compared to corresponding period of 2000.
"The said increase of import of edible oil would increase the availability of edible oil and contribute to increase the per capita consumption of oil and fat in Bangladesh substantially to the level of over 7 kg and have positive impact on national health", said an expert.
Source: The Daily Independent, Dhaka, December 24, 2001