Food security predicament in Pakistan

Pakistan is a low income developing Pakistan. Agriculture is one of the leading sectors in the country. About 68 per cent population in Pakistan earn their livelihood through farming and agriculture.

In general, looking at the global food security predicament in South Asian countries, and particularly Pakistan is on the hit list for food deficiency in coming years, the example we have in the recent past for Thar denizens, where hundreds of children died in the laps of their mothers due to widespread malnutrition. The magnitudes of food shortage would be even very much distressing for the marginalized secluded communities of Pakistan in near future.

During the World Food Summit held in 1996, the food security was defined as ‘food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs, and their food preferences are met for an active and healthy life.’ Food is a rudimentary fundamental human right as well as need originated from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), identifying the ‘right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food’, in addition to the ‘fundamental right to be free from hunger’.

Pakistan has total area of 79.6 million hectares, where 21.2 million hectares are cultivated. And the cropped area in the country constitutes 23.8 million hectares. Nearly 80 per cent of the cultivated land is watered. Pakistan is among top ten producers of sugar cane, mango, wheat, cotton, dates, and oranges and own 13th position in rice crop in the world.

As said by the Federal Bureau of Statistic 2010–2011, 40 per cent labor force of the country is working in agriculture sector where there is 36.2 per cent male and 75.4 per cent female. The sector contributes 20.9 per cent to the country’s GDP. Moreover, Pakistan has rich livestock sector, which employs almost 35 million people and contributes 11 per cent to the GDP of the country.

Having such rich and splendid agriculture landscape, our people are living hand to mouth. Hundreds of children are dying because of undernourishment. And we are struggling with substantial food insecurity challenges.

According to a report, the underprivileged people spend more on food as compared to non-food items. The report further elucidates that within the poorest group the average household’s expenditure share on food in Pakistan has gone up from 55.6 per cent in 2005-6 to 61.6 per cent in 2009. In three years 5 per cent graph of food expense had gone up.

According to a survey estimates 65 per cent population out of estimated 188 million 113 million people of Pakistan live in the rural areas. These are those people, who are directly affiliated with farming and agriculture. But now the state for farming in Pakistan is so poor that millions acre land is being degraded due to water logging and salinity. Where once one-acre land used to produce 60 to 70 man produce, but that has reduced to 40 men per acre? That thing in Pakistan is leading toward food shortage.

According to Global Food Security Index (2013), in South Asian countries Pakistan is second last for food insecure countries. According to World Food Programme (2009), in excess of 48 per cent of the population is food insecure.In line with the findings of the National Nutritional Survey (2011), up to 58 per cent, Pakistanis are food insecure. In two years, there seems 10 per cent increase in food insecurity. Additionally, according to it the situation was better in 2003 but has increasingly worsened with the year 2011 being the worst.

The reasons of food insecurity in Pakistan can be many such as, the rich are grabbing and controlling the resources, and compelling the relegated communities to live in poverty and hunger. Exceeding population over yield production. Larger urbanization and rise of cities. We are consuming more than conserving. Uneven water distribution, rural and urban divide, failed economic policies, negligence of new technology in the agriculture sector, lack of good governance, and corruption.

Moreover, there are many other reasons like natural and man-made disasters as floods, earthquakes, droughts, and conflicts, in the last two decades have played havoc with the existing agriculture system in the country. Recent flood (2015) in Pakistan have heavily hit the paddy crop in Punjab and Sindh, and thousand acres banana in Katcha areas of Sindh is spoiled. The same situation was created during floods of 2010 and 2011.

The World Development Report 2008 recommends that the growth originating in agriculture is four times more effective in reducing poverty than the growth coming from non-agriculture sectors. The government needs to revise its food securities policies and strategies focusing on rural agricultural land reform, a requirement for economic and social development within the country. The introduction of modern technologies in the agriculture sector needs to be implied.

Thus, to enhance the agriculture produce and overcoming food insecurity challenges in the country. The community level agriculture institutions need to be revolutionized, and rural farmers’ capacity enhancement help increases yields in future. Moreover, the integrated cropping methodologies and food preservation technologies must be developed. There should be more flexible trade policies with neighboring countries.


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