Fight against food insecurity

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Addressing the recently held Kissan National Convention, Prime Minister Imran Khan affirmed that food insecurity remains one of the biggest challenges in Pakistan and the country must act immediately to protect the population. But while the prime minister mentioned that importing food commodities such as wheat has an impact on foreign exchange reserves, he failed to recognize that high inflation, poverty and unemployment were also part of the problem. problem.

Despite the fact that the agricultural sector produces food surpluses, poor households across Pakistan remain extremely vulnerable to food insecurity due to lack of access. We cannot ignore the fact that inflation – recorded at a nine-year high of 14.6% in January – is a major factor since it has a direct impact on the purchasing power of poor households. According to a recent survey conducted by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, around 3.8 million people are currently facing acute food insecurity. High levels of poverty coupled with soaring food prices have led to severe malnutrition and stunted growth. Four in 10 children under 5 are stunted while more than half of Pakistani children are anemic. The situation is particularly tragic in rural areas even though agriculture is an important part of the rural economy.

Marketing of food is also a huge problem. While the rich have full control of industries and feudal lords own the land, food resources must first and foremost meet the needs of the people before being exported for profit or sold at high prices. . In addition, agriculture remains totally neglected even though our economy is based on agriculture. As the land becomes increasingly barren due to climate change, deforestation and pollution, little to no research has been done and no serious mitigation efforts have yet been undertaken.

In the midst of all of this, the workers and peasants remain excluded from the overall process and are instead treated like slaves. They must be held accountable and the government must strengthen the unions. The problem is complex and requires a well thought out systematic plan that would benefit the masses in the long run.

Posted in The Express Tribune, July 4e, 2021.

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