Draft policy on food security: Fill policy gaps, protect the most vulnerable, say experts

Agriculture and food security policy draft prepared
Agriculture and food security policy draft prepared

October 29, 2013

By Maha Mussadaq

Food security experts and small farmers from across the country have demanded that the government ensure food supply to the most vulnerable.

They were speaking on Monday at a national debate on the draft “National Food & Nutritional Policy”, which has been developed by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research. The debate was organised by Oxfam Pakistan and Action Aid.

Government representatives, civil society members, small farmers and other stakeholders participated in the debate.

Zareen Gul, a female farmer from Layyah district in southern Punjab, talked about the plight of small farmers in her area, saying that her children now eat only two meals a day as her family was facing food insecurity.

“I mix lemon juice with water and add spices. We cannot even cook a proper curry at home. Very occasionally, they get to eat a chappati” said Gul.

According to a statement issued by the Oxfam, in Pakistan equitable food distribution faces severe hurdles because of climate change and is further constrained by scarcity of land and water. “The draft prepared by the ministry on food security is filled with gaps which need to be sorted out.”

It said that issues related to land, water shortages, floods, industrial waste disposal by factories, land grabbing and hindrances caused by middle men, lack of seeds and poor communication linkages with markets were some of the dire issues which were needed to be addressed to ensure food supply to the vulnerable.

During the debate, speakers asked the government to initiate farmer-led initiatives. It was recommended that the new policy should speak about inflation and food price volatility, address issues of land grabbing and land degradation and effects of climate change should also be integrated in the policy.

According to a report, with 70 per cent of the population living in rural areas, almost 24 to 40 per cent of people live below the poverty line in Pakistan.

Shaman Ali from Sanghar district, Sindh said that waste disposal by factories were affecting the quality of food. “I’m sorry to say that the fruits and vegetables that people are eating today are fed with infected water. It is poisonous and no one is doing anything about it.”

Oxfam Country Director Arif Jabbar Khan said that according to a national nutrition survey, 31 million people in Pakistan were malnourished. “We need appropriate policies to ensure access, availability and utilisation of nutritious food for the poor and policies should be implemented in their true spirit.”

According to “food legislation in South Asia and its link with food security,” a research paper by Oxfam and SDPI, the government of Pakistan has taken different steps from time to time to ensure food security for its citizens. However, food insecurity was becoming an emerging challenge for the country due to food inflation, despite ample food crops production in the country.

National Food Security and Research Secretary Seerat Asghar said that policies were there but the capacity building at provincial levels remained a major bottleneck for their implementation.

“We all need to collectively realise that development of Pakistan mainly depends on agriculture and we need to work on it,” he said.Express Tribune

Agriculture Sector, Agriculture, Agriculture in Pakistan, Food, Food Security, Economy,

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More