Food for thought: 50% of Pakistanis ‘food insecure’, says FAO

Representative says 40% of country’s children are malnourished and underweight

Peer Muhammad December 10, 2014


Despite Pakistan being one of the major food producing countries in the world, 50% of its population is food insecure, said a top representative of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to Pakistan, Patrick Evans.

He noted this on Tuesday while speaking at the 7th International Development Conference organised jointly by Sustainable Development and Policy Institute (SDPI), FAO, IFAD and WFP.

“To me this country has contradictions as far as food is concerned. On the one hand it is the 8th largest food producing country and on the other, its 50% population is food insecure,” said Patrick. Pakistan was the 6th largest producer of apricot, 5th largest producer of milk and grower of 25 million metric tonnes of wheat last year, he added.

He said that 40% of its children are malnourished and underweight due to lack of access to adequate food. “Pakistan produces enough food for its people. But the issue is access of its people to food.”

The FAO representative pointed out that there are some identified areas, which could be fixed to address this issue including equal access to the food and inclusive economic growth.

Federal Minister Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan told the audience that Pakistan has made some progress in several areas over the last several decades, adding that if we look at the agricultural sector, we find that Pakistan is now producing enough food for its population, and also exporting significant quantities of various food commodities, including, rice, fruits and livestock products.

However, the minister also noted, much needs to be done to ensure that every Pakistani has access to safe and nutritious food at the household level.

“This has particularly been a challenge for the poor sections of society, and the problem has been exacerbated by various shocks, particularly the frequent natural disasters”, Sikandar Hayat said.

Furthermore, SDPI Executive Director Abid Qayyum Sulehri said that maintaining adequate food production and its availability to all the segments of society is the major challenge being faced by the country.

Secretary for the ministry of National Food Security and Research (NFCR), Seerat Asghar, said that our priorities need to be redirected for food security. He also added that budget for the NFCR is merely Rs1 billion for the year 2014-15, which clearly shows that food security is not a priority of the government.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2014.


Khan | 6 years ago | Reply

We have serious issue with storage and supply of food. Wheat is produced in abundance in Pakistan but we don't have climate controlled storage units to store them thus a lot of wheat is wasted every year. Same goes for vegetables, fruits, milk, etc.

We also have terrible road network so fruit & vegetables produced in Sindh takes 3 - 4 days in open trucks to reach Lahore, Islamabad & Peshawar, and many times they get rotten by the time they reach the destination.

ishrat salim | 6 years ago | Reply

Although we are primarily an agriculture country / an agrarian society, but unfortunately our focus has been to industries & mega projects, thus creating food security for our 50% population. Overtime successive govt priorities have been misplaced. Although agriculture constitutes 23% of our GDP, but no landlord, feudal / waderas pay income tax against output,as it is not yet under tax & power to tax is a provincial subject. Unless land reform is done like in India, these poor farmers will remain an economic slave of the landlords who rules over their lives.

The majority of politicians are landlords who rules over us, hence, they are not bothered to impart education to the masses, otherwise who will till their land ? Right to free education as per constitution is just on paper....

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