close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
 
January 11, 2021

Food insecurity

 
January 11, 2021

Forty percent of Pakistani households are facing moderate or severe food insecurity in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, as per a survey conducted by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). There has been much written about the way the pandemic has affected people’s health, mental well-being, and of course finances – which directly contribute to food insecurity within households.

On the broader level, the country in itself has also been facing food security issues over the past few years, despite the fact that Pakistan is self-sufficient in major staple foods. Apart from unemployment due to the pandemic, the fact that households in the country are not food secure in a country which produces almost all of its food also means that the problems lie in the mechanisms for distribution as well as the low rate of compensating rural labour. 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 the ones most affected by food insecurity. The situation is so poor that almost half of the country’s children under five years of age suffer stunted growth. And all this is set to be exacerbated due to high population growth, growing water stress and climate change in the next two decades. While one must remember that PM Imran Khan used his first speech to highlight the issue of malnutrition, there is little that has been concretely done to address the issue of chronic food insecurity in Pakistan.

In the past, the FAO had emphasized the need for cooperation between developing countries from the region in order to improve agricultural outcomes and share experiences of fighting hunger. 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 the mouths of urban and rural populations. This will need to change through concentrated effort on an urgent basis.