Whither food security

The farmers of Sindh are estimating a loss of more than Rs50b

August 09, 2022

Rains are usually a blessing for the agrarian sector, but in our case, it turns into a nuisance. The reason is lack of seasonal customised provisions, coupled with ad-hocism in regulating farm water channels, as well as an outdated harvesting strategy. While Pakistan is home to one of the best canal and riverine systems, its non-regulation and prompt cleaning before monsoon renders havoc to agrarian productivity. This year also the monsoon has played its mischief, and the farmers of Sindh are estimating a loss of more than Rs50 billion. The standing crop of dates, vegetables and cotton has reportedly been washed away by flash floods, and their due supplies has become an enigma. The apt recourse that is adopted is tax relief and provision of soft loans, as the provincial government goes on to declare an emergency. But this provision only results in burdening the national exchequer, and at the same time sees an escalation of prices of essential commodities. The farmers, somehow, manage to audit their losses but the axe falls on consumers who end up paying a heavy price for the produce that is imported to meet demand.

It is ironic that Pakistan despite being an agrarian state does not have a viable agriculture policy. It is unfortunately a grain importing nation and ends up doling out its precious foreign exchange. The same can always be avoided by prudently opting for stringent management and a better planned harvesting decorum. Food imports are a result of a flawed food security policy. This is because we have failed to regulate, modernize and patronize agriculture, and have contended with piecemeal measures. This vulnerability has impacted our self-reliance. Pakistan has to feed 220 million mouths, and adds an average of five million more people to its grain basket annually. It’s high time a food security policy is unveiled and the farmers bucked up with desired essentials.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2022.

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