How food secure is Pakistan? Many of us know the answer to this intuitively. The country’s food security issues have been delved into more deeply by a report published by the Global Network...
How food secure is Pakistan? Many of us know the answer to this intuitively. The country’s food security issues have been delved into more deeply by a report published by the Global Network Against Food Crises. The report says that the people of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have all been facing severe food insecurity. This is largely due to the Covid-19 crisis which resulted in reduced production opportunities, but has also been exacerbated by drought which hit many parts of Sindh and Balochistan, the continuing conflict in parts of KP, a lack of rainfall, and other factors, which include livestock diseases and high prices affecting production and transportation. While conditions in Sindh may continue to improve, Balochistan remains under threat.
We are constantly told that food is not a problem in Pakistan. This global report states otherwise. The fact that Pakistan is one of the countries responsible for two-thirds of the world’s under-nourished population should be cause for alarm. While around a quarter of Pakistan’s population lives below the poverty line, poverty is the worst in rural areas. The question we need to be asking ourselves is why the areas that produce food are the ones most affected by food insecurity. And all this is set to be exacerbated due to high population growth, growing water stress and climate change in the next two decades. The need for agricultural collaboration should go together with the agenda of reducing poverty. If the distribution of wealth does not improve, there is little chance of addressing hunger. The region continues to produce distributive inequalities that snatch food from urban and rural populations. The dismal situation in which the country’s poor are living now, should be an immediate cause of concern for the government. Providing free food to the needy may be a relief for a few people, but this is not the solution to the long-standing food insecurity in the country.
Food security has become a catchword in the development sector, but this is what has been undermined throughout the world. The UN and other agencies created to combat conflict are failing. Almost 60 percent of chronically undernourished people are located in countries affected by conflict. While the UN continues to call on global leaders to wake up and respond, there are few that are doing anything significant. The sources of conflict are more and more centered around essential resources such as water and land. The promise of the 21st century is fading fast.