Nevertheless, the way out of poverty is difficult. With approximately 165 million inhabitants, Bangladesh has one of the highest population densities in the world. Streets and houses are already overflowing in the capital city of Dhaka; population settlement stretches across huge areas of slums and suburbs. Mountains of garbage are piling up outside the city center. Flooding is a routine occurrence.
A silver lining can be seen, though. GDP has been growing steadily since 1995. In 2016, it grew by 7.1%, and in the three years before that, the annual rate was approximately 6%. The textile and metal industries are the most notable drivers of this development, but the domestic food processing industries are keeping pace. “The livelihood of the population will increase first and foremost with the growth in the economy,” explains Sheikh Bashir Uddin. “From our side, we can drive the development of new, nutritional products; of course, we also need people to buy them. Thanks to the size of our industrial operations, our products are available for a reasonable price, which enables more consumers to have access to more foods.”
Also convinced of this is Fazlur Rahman, Chairman of City Group, the biggest Bühler customer in the country. ”Bangladesh is growing,” says Rahman. ”We want to help establish a sound basis for the country's economy. The government has set the goal of making Bangladesh a middle-income country by 2020. In order to achieve this, the private sector must invest in production – we need more rice, flour, and cooking oil.”
Rahman's conglomerate is active in the domestic food industry. Having originally processed mustard seeds to make oil, Rahman has expanded its business operations over the last 50 years to become a highly diversified company. In the food and feed sector, City Group now not only produces mustard, sunflower, and soybean oil, but also flour, lentils, and rice. The company's newly-commissioned production plant on the bank of the Shitalakshya River, 30 kilometers outside Dhaka, was brought about together with Bühler.