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URDU: The hungry 90 million by Farrukh Saleem

URDU: The hungry 90 million by Farrukh Saleem

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As of January 28, Pakistan’s estimated population is 182,073,559. Shockingly, of the total, 90 million Pakistanis are ‘food insecure’. For the record, Pakistan is the fifth largest producer of wheat in the world.
Pakistan is the third largest producer of pulses. Pakistan is the fourth largest producer of goat milk, meat and onions. Pakistan is the fifth largest producer of dates, spices, apricot and pepper. Pakistan is the sixth largest producer of mangoes and sugarcane. Pakistan is the eleventh largest producer of oranges, twelfth largest producer of rice paddy, thirteenth largest producer of cow milk and sixteenth largest producer of cattle meat.
Dr Abid Suleri, Pakistan’s foremost expert in food security, says that 48.6 percent of “people in the country are extremely food insecure” and that “our policymakers are in a constant state of denial. Citing bumper production of wheat, milk and export of rice, they simply rule out that food insecurity is an issue in the country. The mindset to deny existence of a problem coupled with governance issues is the root cause of all policy failures against hunger and malnourishment.”
What really is food security? In 1996, the World Food Summit defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”. In other words, food security is the “availability of food and one’s access to it.”
According to the National Nutrition Survey 2011 conducted by the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), around “58 percent of the population is food insecure.” Why are 90 million Pakistanis food insecure? According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), food security is built on three pillars: food availability, food access and food use. There is empirical evidence that 90 million Pakistanis lack “sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet.”
Question: Why do 90 million Pakistanis lack sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet? Answer: Government policy and food inflation. The support price for wheat, for instance, has been jacked up by a factor of nearly 300 percent over the past five years. According to the UN, “inflation, decline in income, natural disasters and stagnating domestic productivity are hampering the attempts to achieve food security for the country’s 180 million citizens.”
Over the past decade, there have been 45,603 fatalities resulting from terrorist violence. Over the past two decades, 12754 people have either been killed or injured in 2,751 incidents of sectarian violence. Over the past decade, there have been 4,048 bomb blasts between Khyber and Karachi. Over the past five years, 569 people have been killed and 1,305 injured inside mosques.
Imagine 90 million hungry human beings. Food insecurity and violent conflict are cousins. There is empirical evidence that food insecurity, interstate war, communal violence, civil conflict and political instability are all closely related.
According to a report by the World Food Programme, “Food insecurity – especially when caused by a rise in food prices – is a threat and impact multiplier for violent conflict. It might not be a direct cause and rarely the only cause, but combined with other factors, for example in the political or economic spheres, it could be the factor that determines whether and when violent conflicts will erupt.”
Imagine 90 million hungry human beings. We have to break the food insecurity-conflict link. The government must design and implement targeted food subsidies. How about school meals, take home rations and food-for-work programmes?
As of January 28, Pakistan’s estimated population is 182,073,559. Shockingly, of the total, 90 million Pakistanis are ‘food insecure’. For the record, Pakistan is the fifth largest producer of wheat in the world.
Pakistan is the third largest producer of pulses. Pakistan is the fourth largest producer of goat milk, meat and onions. Pakistan is the fifth largest producer of dates, spices, apricot and pepper. Pakistan is the sixth largest producer of mangoes and sugarcane. Pakistan is the eleventh largest producer of oranges, twelfth largest producer of rice paddy, thirteenth largest producer of cow milk and sixteenth largest producer of cattle meat.
Dr Abid Suleri, Pakistan’s foremost expert in food security, says that 48.6 percent of “people in the country are extremely food insecure” and that “our policymakers are in a constant state of denial. Citing bumper production of wheat, milk and export of rice, they simply rule out that food insecurity is an issue in the country. The mindset to deny existence of a problem coupled with governance issues is the root cause of all policy failures against hunger and malnourishment.”
What really is food security? In 1996, the World Food Summit defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”. In other words, food security is the “availability of food and one’s access to it.”
According to the National Nutrition Survey 2011 conducted by the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), around “58 percent of the population is food insecure.” Why are 90 million Pakistanis food insecure? According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), food security is built on three pillars: food availability, food access and food use. There is empirical evidence that 90 million Pakistanis lack “sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet.”
Question: Why do 90 million Pakistanis lack sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet? Answer: Government policy and food inflation. The support price for wheat, for instance, has been jacked up by a factor of nearly 300 percent over the past five years. According to the UN, “inflation, decline in income, natural disasters and stagnating domestic productivity are hampering the attempts to achieve food security for the country’s 180 million citizens.”
Over the past decade, there have been 45,603 fatalities resulting from terrorist violence. Over the past two decades, 12754 people have either been killed or injured in 2,751 incidents of sectarian violence. Over the past decade, there have been 4,048 bomb blasts between Khyber and Karachi. Over the past five years, 569 people have been killed and 1,305 injured inside mosques.
Imagine 90 million hungry human beings. Food insecurity and violent conflict are cousins. There is empirical evidence that food insecurity, interstate war, communal violence, civil conflict and political instability are all closely related.
According to a report by the World Food Programme, “Food insecurity – especially when caused by a rise in food prices – is a threat and impact multiplier for violent conflict. It might not be a direct cause and rarely the only cause, but combined with other factors, for example in the political or economic spheres, it could be the factor that determines whether and when violent conflicts will erupt.”
Imagine 90 million hungry human beings. We have to break the food insecurity-conflict link. The government must design and implement targeted food subsidies. How about school meals, take home rations and food-for-work programmes?

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Published by: Shabbir Hussain Imam on Jan 30, 2013
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