Self sufficiency: ‘Please grow your own greens’

Participants at food security consultation say allocation not lack of funds bigger problem.


Aroosa Shaukat November 18, 2011

LAHORE:


Aurat Foundation hosted a one-day provincial consultation, Women and Issues of Food Security, on Friday which was attended by representatives of various political parties and NGOs.


Agriculture Department Deputy Director Dr Muhammad Aslam said women accounted for 74 per cent of the agriculture labour force. He added that tasks performed by women included planting of cotton and vegetable by hand, picking fruits, cotton and vegetables and harvesting wheat, rice and sugar cane. Dr Aslam said a Rs102 million revolving fund had been provided to 127 village organisations for the purchase of inputs.

University of Central Punjab Professor of Economics Dr Qais Aslam expressed his reservations on the state of food security in Pakistan. Dr Aslam said food inflation had reached 25 per cent in the current year while it had stood at 18 per cent during the past four years. He urged urbanites to grow their own food. He said that in China, people in urban centres grow their own food albeit on a limited scale.

Bushra Malik, advisor to the Punjab governor, appreciated the suggestions by the experts and said that the Agriculture Department should help create awareness amongst the urban masses and promote small scale vegetable farming in cities.

The Legislative Watch Group regional coordinator Shumaila Tanvir said there was a need to focus on the issues of rural women and their food requirements.

Sohaib Marghoob highlighted the legislative aspects of food security. Marghoob said food security had never been made a priority for national governments. He said that while there were laws governing food packaging and hygiene, there was no law to ensure availability of food. He warned that the crisis could lead to socio-economic unrest.

Former MNA Mehnaz Rafi said Pakistan did not lack the resources to tackle food insecurity. She said improper allocation of funds had resulted in the current situation. She added that the Agriculture Department should address the issue exporting food without taking into consideration the local needs.

The participants said that there should be more laws to protect women farmers and agriculture universities in every district. It was also agreed that easy loans should be available to female farmers.

MPA Dr Amna Buttar said there was an urgent need to incorporate rural women in the legislative processes to better address their issues. She said food quality should also be monitored.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2011.

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