Technical Symposium on Nutrition-Sensitive Urban Food Systems

As countries like Bangladesh become more urbanised, governments are increasingly challenged to ensure food and nutrition security (FSN) for all. More than 65 million people are estimated to live in cities in Bangladesh and this number is rising. The 21st century has been called the urban century because in 2007 the world passed a tipping point and now more people live in cities than in rural areas. While moving to cities generally brings people more opportunities to access employment, education, and health services, these improvements do not necessarily mean people eat any better. Urbanisation also leads to more unequal societies and uneven growth, in which many end up living in slums, working in precarious jobs, and not eating well. In slum areas of Dhaka it was found that 40% of under-five children were stunted and 11.6% were wasted. However, a lack of food is not the only problem affecting city dwellers: micronutrient malnutrition of various forms affects between a third to half of the population across all age groups. Concurrently, obesity among adult women is also on the rise, with 36% found overweight or obese. With this double burden of malnutrition emerging, the implications for non-communicable diseases are of concern. Moreover, urban agglomerations comprise communities from diverse cultural backgrounds with distinctive food habits. The food production system often responds to such changing demand patterns by adopting approaches that are not considered to be good agricultural practices. These challenges require a new generation of FSN policy solutions.

To this end, the virtual Technical Symposium on Nutrition-sensitive Urban Food Systems was organised by the Food Planning and Monitoring Unit (FPMU), the Ministry of Food and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through its projects: Meeting the Undernutrition Challenge (MUCH) and Support for Modelling, Planning and Improving Dhaka’s Food System (DFS), with financial support from the European Union (EU) and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN). It aimed to initiate a dialogue to explore the opportunities and challenges facing global, regional, and national urban food systems. The symposium also shared innovative responses and good practices that respond to the challenges facing urban food systems in Bangladesh. Key recommendations identified through this symposium will support the preparation of the Food and Nutrition Security Policy Plan of Action (2020-2030), on-going reforms of the social protection system, and the achievement of the SDGs.

This technical symposium is the fourth in a series, organized by the Food Planning and Monitoring Unit (FPMU), the Ministry of Food, and FAO’s Meeting the Undernutrition Challenge (MUCH) Project. Previous symposia focused on nutrition-sensitive agriculture (2016), nutrition-sensitive social protection (2017) and nutrition-sensitive water, sanitation and hygiene (2018).

Please find below the information on the symposium.


Session I : Urban Food Systems in a Changing World (11.00 - 12.30, 13 October 2020)

Introduction by Moderator: Naoki Minamiguchi, Chief Technical Advisor, MUCH, FAO

Opening Remarks by Md Hajiqul Islam, Research Director, Food Planning and Monitoring Unit (FPMU), Ministry of Food

Speech by Guest of Honour, Koen Everaert, Team Leader of Food & Nutrition Security and Sustainable Development Section, Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Bangladesh

Keynote Address - Urban Food Systems in Transition in 5 Key Messages by Kostas G. Stamoulis, Senior Advisor on Food Security and Nutrition and Urban Food Systems, FAO


  1. Urban Food System Issues in Asia by Sridhar Dharmapuri, Senior Food Safety and Nutrition Officer, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
  2. Nutrition Situation in Urban Bangladesh by Rudaba Khondker, Country Director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Bangladesh
  3. Food Systems for Healthier Diets by Inge Brouwer, Associate Professor, Wageningen University & Research
  4. Dhaka Food System by Tariq Bin Yousuf, Chief Town Planner and Superintendent Engineer, Dhaka North City Corporation

Questions and Answers

Address by Chief Guest, Dr Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum, Honourable Secretary, Ministry of Food

Closing Remarks by Moderator

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Session II: Making Food Systems More Inclusive, Sustainable, Resilient and Nutrition-Sensitive (14:00 – 15:30, 13 October 2020)

Introduction by Moderator, John Taylor, Chief Technical Advisor, DFS, FAO

Opening Remarks by Guest of Honour, Folkert de Jager, First Secretary, Water Management and Food Security, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Experiences, Approaches, and Tools for Driving Sustainable Food Systems from Bangladesh

  1. Private Sector Development of Urban Food Supply Chains by Md. Mahadi Faisal, Head of Business – Fresh Produce, SWAPNO (ACI Logistics Ltd.)
  2. Food for Nation – Digital Marketplace by Mohammed Yousuf, Director General, Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM), Ministry of Agriculture
  3. Possibilities of Urban Farming, Increasing Access to Healthy Options by Ashna Afroze Ahmed, Founder, Prakriti Farming
  4. Reducing Food Loss and Improving Child Nutrition by Khan Zubair Symon, Country Manager, and Marcelle Peuckert, Project Lead, SIG-BRAC Cartons for Good Project
  5. Health Insurance and Nutrition for Industrial Workers by Shaikh Saif Al Rashid, Founder & Managing Director, Apon Wellbeing Ltd.

Panel Discussion - What innovative actions transform the food systems to deliver healthy diets and nutrition outcomes?


  • Md. Khalilur Rahman, Director General, Bangladesh National Nutrition Council (BNNC)
  • Md Hajiqul Islam, Research Director, FPMU, Ministry of Food
  • Kaosar Afsana, Professor, BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University
  • Piet Vochten, Deputy Country Director (Programme & Strategy), World Food Programme (WFP)

Closing Remarks by Moderator

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Note: Presentations can be downloaded by clicking each topic when there were presentations

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