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Food security improves in Pakistan


May 20, 2015

KARACHI: Pakistan’s food security environment is slightly improving year on year, although the country still holds an unimpressive rank in the global food security index of the Economist Intelligence Unit.
The key findings of the EIU, released on Tuesday, ranked Pakistan 77 among 109 countries surveyed to find out the affordability, availability and quality and safety of foods.
Pakistan’s rank this year notched up from 76 in 2014, 75 in 2013 and 77 in 2012.
Food availability improved this year as compared to the last year and affordability maintained the score of the previous year. Food quality and safety score, however, shed to 53.0 this year from 55.5 a year earlier.
The country’s overall score showed a little improvement to 45.7 from 44.0 in 2014 and 42.5 in 2013.
The EIU report said growing urbanisation aggravates the food security situation. More than half the world’s population now lives in urban areas and this figure will reach 66 percent by 2050, it added.
“According to the United Nations estimates, the global population is expected to jump from 7.2 billion people in 2013 to 9.6 billion by 2050, and most of that growth will occur in the developing world,” the EIU said. “As populations boom and incomes rise in developing countries…food production will have to grow by 70 percent to meet demand.”
Consumers spending on food in Pakistan is rising as found by the research. It said food consumption accounted for 54.3 percent of total household expenditure this year as against 47.6 percent a year ago. The country got 26.9 score in this sub-category.
Noticeably, food loss has increased in 2015. According to the findings, waste of food in local supply was recorded at 3.6 tons. This loss was kept at 3.4 tons in the previous three years. However, the score for food loss was 90.6, which implied an improvement.
Average food supply scored 37.6 and supply sufficiency 40.9. Diet diversification secured 53.6 score.

The data showed that a total of 45 percent of children were stunted in 2015. Prevalence of undernourishment was registered at 17.2 percent. A total of 31.6 percent of children were underweight. On an average, a person consumed 169 calories a day.
Comparatively, the report revealed that India clinched a rank of 68 with 50.9 score. Its scores rallied towards favourable in terms of all the three categories. Sri Lank ranked 63 with 53.7 score, China 42 with 64.2, Myanmar 78 with 44.0, Nepal 85 with 40.5 and Bangladesh was positioned at 89 with 37.4.
China has a relatively good food security environment, scoring between 58.5 and 74.1.
The EIU anticipates that food prices will ratchet up following the recovery in the international oil prices.
“Global food commodity prices will start to rise again, especially as oil prices begin to rise after reaching a low in January 2015,” it said.
The index, benchmarking model, based its findings on 28 indicators.
International scholars define food security as the state in which people have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs for a healthy and active life.
The EIU put India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar in the list of countries, which have moderate food security environment. These countries scored between 41.5 and 58.4.
It advised improvement for Nepal and Bangladesh amongst countries that clinched 25.1 to 41.4 scores.
The report called for an increase in production capacity to meet the needs of the 2050 population.
“Concentrated government focus and public-private partnerships are crucial for driving further investment in infrastructure and additional programmes to guarantee food safety, ensure nutritional standards and increase farmer financing,” it said.
“Additionally, increased support for agricultural research and development is required to provide the necessary innovations that will make it possible to feed the world in the future.”

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