Wednesday September 22, 2021

‘Food security ensured through robust measures’

Islamabad : Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam has said that despite unprecedented challenges Pakistan has faced during the last two years, the threats to food security were responded with robust actions by the government at every level.

Mr. Imam was speaking at a Webinar on “Ensuring food security amid Covid-19 through ecosystem restoration” organised here by Sustainable Development Policy Institute in collaboration with UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

Mr. Imam said that during the time of Covid-19, the locust attack was another major challenge. However, through collaborative efforts, we reduced the threat to minimize damage and are better prepared for future threats now.

He said that failure in correctly monitoring food pricing leads to inaccurate predictions and market price trends. Therefore, the government had purchased more wheat to mitigate any shortage, he argued.

Despite Covid-19 and its impacts, we are having 6 bumper crops this year including wheat, rice, and maize, he said adding that the focus of the future efforts of the government would be on improving the livestock sector, becoming self-reliant on edible oils and organic farming.

He said that to challenges climate change and expanding biodiversity, Pakistan needs to build up institutional mechanisms and make full use of its human resources. Therefore, the education to improve the agricultural sector and engage in more high-tech methods and set up our own silicon valleys is the need of the hour, he concluded.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Food Security Jamshed Iqbal Cheema said that the government was shifting its focus to new areas in Balochistan and Thar desert areas, especially for crops such as cotton which have higher chances of success in these areas.

Mr. Cheema added that encouraging fruit tree plantation in urban areas through youth engagement, cultivation of medicinal plants and increasing production of crops such as ginger, cardamom, avocados and coffee is being focused. These superfoods will be grown locally and given upscale production with the help of nurseries, scientists, and farmers to enhance exports of these crops in the future.

He stressed that the government plans to provide loans to farmers, food processing plants across the country, and commercial activities to the rural sector to stop rural to urban migration.

Richard Ough, senior economist and Team Leader, FCDO, Pakistan explained how the subject of the ecosystem, food security, and diversity are linked. He was of the view that food pricing and its monitoring provide valuable data that is important to ensure food security. He opined that digital innovation could support the ambition of Pak’s government. Besides, initiatives to transform arid desert lands to arable with smart water irrigation could be explored, he added.

Earlier, Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, presented a brief overview of the topic and highlighted the importance of ecosystem restoration. Kashif Majeed Salik from SDPI also spoke on the occasion.