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Wednesday December 01, 2021

If population grows at current pace, Pakistan may face issues of hunger, poverty: PM

September 24, 2021

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday said if food crops production did not increase and the population explosion continued, the country might face famine and poverty in the years to come.

Addressing the Kissan Card distribution ceremony here, he highlighted the importance of making Pakistan self-sufficient in food crops, adding that it was necessary to ensure the country’s huge population keeps getting fed. He said that Pakistan's already large population was growing at a rapid pace.

Expressing his concerns about the fast growing population in Pakistan, which had reached from less than 40 million in 1947 to around 220 million at present, he said the growth could be checked through enhanced education levels and primary healthcare facilities.

The prime minister said despite having much fertile lands and bumper wheat crops, the country had to import four million tons of wheat last year and was again expected to import the commodity this year.

He said as the country had to import basic commodities like ghee, pulses etc. to cater to the needs of growing population, there was a need to make plans to tackle such challenges. The prime minister also attributed enhanced import of commodities as one of the major causes of inflation and said the commodity prices had increased worldwide.

He said Pakistan had to tackle this challenge by promoting its agricultural sector, research and increasing its cultivation areas and yields of various crops through modern techniques of farming and about farmers’ issues in Pakistan, the PM said they were making money for the first time during the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s tenure. “We [PTI-led government] pressurised the sugar mafia to release payments to farmers, which they were previously withholding,” he said.

The PM lamented that Pakistan had to import wheat from abroad despite growing a huge amount of food crops. “When prices of food crops across the globe rose, inflation surged in Pakistan as well, because we are also importing them from abroad,” he said. “Today, where we stand in terms of population, we have to focus on primary education and basic health because these two keep a population from growing astronomically,” he added.

PM Imran Khan said that his government was now planning to make Pakistan self-sufficient in food crops and would ensure maximum storage of water. “We will do this so that whenever food prices increase around the world, Pakistanis here can eat daal,” he said. He admitted that this year, food items’ prices had remained highest in the last 20 years.

He lamented that mafias were hindering the law implementation; they were seeking arrest of only the poor and an NRO [deal] for themselves. He regretted that those having properties worth billions of rupees abroad were making speeches against the PTI government, but were not ready to give the money trail.

The prime minister began his address by saying that he is “not one of those who use Islam for their personal gains”, adding that he had studied Islamic history and the life of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

He urged students to study the life of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), adding that Pakistanis did not study Islam in depth and learn from the lessons of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) due to which the country was in crisis.

“Allah has sent the Holy Quran for our salvation. It is for your betterment,” he said. The PM said the Holy Quran asks people to shun bribery culture in the country as “those giving or taking bribes lose their self-esteem”.

PM Imran Khan said he would try to “change the nation”, adding that his government would defeat the mafias that were against Pakistan’s interests.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said contrary to Pakistan, where hours-long meetings are held before elections to discuss how to check rigging, people in the West and European poll their votes without fear of any such practice.

The prime minister said Gomal Zam Dam would make over 200,000 acres of land in the area cultivable. He said that the present government had started constructing dams in the country after 50 years, and 10 dams would be constructed during the next 10 years.

Highlighting the importance of research, seed development, modern technology and efficient use of water in the agriculture sector, the prime minister said that the per acre yield of various crops in India was higher than that in Pakistan.

He said that better utilisation of agricultural lands in the areas like Waziristan and the cultivation of cash crops in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan would bring about a revolution in the lives of people.

Imran Khan said many areas in Pakistan were very good for cultivation of avocado, a vegetable full of vitamins, adding, he himself had done the experience of growing this expensive vegetable at home. He said it was after the 1960s that a government was focusing on the promotion of agriculture sector. “We don’t think about next elections, but about the next generation,” he remarked.

The prime minister said that by cultivating and growing the cash crops like pulses, Palm Oil, Soybean and Olives, Pakistan could not only fulfil its domestic needs but also export the basic commodities.

Expressing his delight over the establishment of an agricultural university in the area, Imran Khan said a faculty of agriculture research was also being set up at NAMAL University in Mianwali with the cooperation of Holland.

He said that China was also cooperating with Pakistan for agriculture development and providing modern technology under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The prime minister said that as the cows in China produced 3 to 4 times more milk than in Pakistan, use of modern techniques could help enhance the country’s milk production.

He said that owing to the government policies and increasing support prices of various crops, the country’s farming community got reasonable return of their produce and prospered. He said the government also increased the support prices of wheat, sugarcane, rice and maize, and there was record production of the commodity in the country.

The PM also announced bifurcation of South Waziristan, which was home to Mehsud and Wazir tribes, into two districts for the facilitation of local people. He, however, added that it would be implemented after land disputes in the areas were resolved.