Monday March 20, 2023

Food crisis

By Editorial Board
February 02, 2023

Pakistani and American officials agree that the recent war in Ukraine, flood devastation in Pakistan, rising inflation, devaluation of the rupee and related issues could lead to a very real food crisis in Pakistan and that there is a need to try and save people from the ravages that such a crisis could cause. According to reports, there are already indications of a growing food crisis in flood-hit parts of Pakistan. The Ukraine war has worsened the situation, given that Pakistan brings in wheat, fertilizer and other materials necessary for agricultural growth from that country – something that is not possible now. The solution according to Pakistani officials lies in bringing in aid from other countries. Generous pledges of around $10 billion have already been made, but more will be required – and of course pledges do not always turn into reality. Till now, Pakistan-US relations have been based primarily around the issue of terrorism and geopolitical factors. Now there may be a new kind of relationship on the table which would see more cooperation between the two countries in areas such as agricultural development, flood relief and finding ways to assist people who have been affected by such devastation.

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 per cent 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. In countries like Pakistan, as the level of poverty surges, the size of the food-insecure population also goes up. Even those who can buy food to sustain themselves face malnutrition and lack of wholesome meals. The government must take a couple of steps to alleviate the situation. As one of the countries predicted to suffer the most due to climate change, Pakistan should be operating on an emergency footing. This should include helping small farmers who cannot even try to battle climate change effects without the aid of the state.