Eight months on: Food security commission yet to hold first meeting

Prime minister secretariat fails to set a time, decisions pending.

Peer Muhammad July 23, 2015
Prime minister secretariat fails to set a time, decisions pending. STOCK IMAGE

ISLAMABAD: The federal government established a commission to develop a national policy under the name of the National Food Security Commission (NFSC). Eight months later, the commission has still failed to hold its first meeting and the reason is the unavailability of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

During the announcement of the federal budget 2014-15, the government had decided to develop a national policy for the long-term sustainability of food security and agriculture development. Later, it was formally established through a notification by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research in December last year and requested the prime minister to schedule a time for its first meeting.  Eight months later, not a single meeting has been held.

The budget documents stated that the council will be responsible for ensuring policy coordination across the provinces relating to productivity improvements, market reforms, value addition and prices that would ensure stable incomes for farmers.

“Since then, the ministry has sent a number of requests for a meeting of NFSC, but the prime minister secretariat is yet to give us a time for the meeting,” said a senior officer in the ministry.

“We want to discuss and resolve certain food security and agriculture related issues between the provinces and the centre and there is confusion over certain matters since the devolution of previous agriculture subjects to the provinces under the 18th Amendment,” said the officer.

The officer cited that had the commission been functional, it would have defiantly taken up the issue of the National Agriculture Research Council (NARC) as the Capital Development Authority has forwarded a summary to the prime minister seeking approval to build a housing society by demolishing the research institute’s headquarter.

Under the composition of the NFSC, the prime minister is the chairman of the NFSC, who is the competent authority to hold and chair the meeting of the commission. The federal minister for national food security and research is the vice chairman and the provincial minister for food agriculture are its members and the commission supposed to have its own secretariat at the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, Islamabad.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd,  2015.

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