ISLAMABAD: In stark contrast to the fact that Pakistan is the 6th largest producer of apricot, 5th largest producer of milk and harvest 25 million metric tonnes of wheat annually, yet 50 percent of its population is food insecure.
Similarly, 40 percent of Pakistani children are malnourished and underweight due to lack of access to adequate food despite being one of the major food producing countries in the world.
United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative in Pakistan Patrick Evans stated this while addressing the 7th International Development Conference organised jointly by Sustainable Development and Policy Institute (SDPI), FAO, IFAD and WFP.
He pointed out that to him this country had contradictions so far as food was concerned as one hand it was the 8th largest food producing country while on the other, 50 of its population was food insecure.
Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan said that Pakistan had made some progress in several areas over the last several decades, adding that Pakistan was now producing enough food for its population, and also exporting significant quantities of various food commodities, including rice, fruits and livestock products.
The minister pointed out that food security had been particularly a challenge for the poor section of society, which had been exacerbated by various shocks particularly the frequent natural disasters.
SDPI Executive Director Abid Qayyum Sulehri said that maintaining adequate food production and its availability to all segments of society was the major challenge being faced by the country.
Ministry of National Food Security and Research (NFCR) Secretary Seerat Asghar said that the government priorities need to be redirected for food security. He also added that budget for the NFCR was merely Rs1 billion for the year 2014-15, which clearly showed that food security was not a priority of the government.