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Threat of food scarcity

Threat of food scarcity

Pakistan is predominantly an agricultural economy with best canal irrigation system in the world and fertile lands, but has been appearing as a major importer of food products in recent years. The international media reports suggest Pakistan is one of the countries which could face food shortage in near future. Pakistan has imported vegetables worth $1.37 billion from China during the first half of the current fiscal year. In the wake of unstable political situation and lethargy of the official cadre, no programme has been launched to assess the food needs of the country and how to fight possible threat of food scarcity. India is continuously building dams on the rivers meant for Pakistan in violation of international agreements as rivers Ravi, Sutlej and Chenab are drying up, leaving the whole plains of Punjab and Sindh barren. This serious issue appears to be a non-issue for the officials who matter. The Indian Punjab province is the one third of the Pakistani part of Punjab in size, but it not only catering to the food needs of entire India, but also exports vegetables and fruits worth millions of dollars to Pakistan. This shows how limited is the scope of agriculture sector in the country.

According to an update of the State Bank, the import bills rose to $21.3 billion in the first half of the current fiscal year. Most of the imported products relate to agriculture and dairy sectors. The lavish spending on the import of edibles is putting extra-burden on the already depleting foreign exchange reserves. The reports show the import of vegetable products in the first six-month was 29 percent higher than the corresponding period of the previous fiscal. The rising import bill is also an indication that how much the country is depending on the foreign agriculture products. Reports also suggest that Pakistan imported edible fruits and nuts worth $74.9 million during the first half of the current fiscal year. The imports of the same products were $49 million during the last year. Besides, Pakistan spent $64.6 million on the import of dairy products and another $23.9 million on the import of halal animals. Pakistan is major importer of palm oil which is incompatible with health chemistry of the local population. A national action plan against food scarcity is the need of the hour otherwise the situation would continue to go from bad to worse.