Pakistan is a low-income country abundant with natural resources. Agriculture is the most important sector of the country meeting food requirements of the fast-growing population. Since its inception, Pakistan has shown a substantial progress in food production. It is one of leading producer of important agricultural products 1 including buffalo milk and meat (ranked 2nd), wheat, sugarcane (ranked 6th) and rice (ranked 12th), but still, it cannot feed its citizen and facing serious food security threat. According to Global Hunger Index, Pakistan hits rock bottom with 106th out of 119 countries. About one-fifth of its population is undernourished, 45% of children are stunted compare to 2006 it was 40.3 %, child mortality rate stands at 8.1%, and 1 out of every ten children age of five years or less has a lower weight for their height (Nutrition Survey)
Why Pakistan is facing Food Insecurity
There are numerous factors contributing to the worse hunger situation in Pakistan. It has 13 ecological zones and 27 sub-ecological zones; one of few counties offers a large diversity of environments that can be exploited. However, this has not explored yet because, throughout its history wheat, rice, cotton, and sugarcane remain the center of its agricultural policies. The farmers follow two crops pattern; rice and wheat, wheat and cotton, wheat and sugarcane that decrease the land fertility. The countries those are facing food crises also have poor governance. Weak and politicize public institutions, violations of human rights, poor law and order situation, terrorism and internally displaced population can make the situation worse 1. According to several studies conducted by Sustainable Development Policy Institute Pakistan (SDPI), the district facing the governance issues are worse affected by food insecurity.
Since 2000 FATA is facing continuously under extreme terrorism, people are displaced to a different part of the country and region never been under government control. That have caused all seven districts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are extremely food-insecure
Eleven districts of KP have faced the conflict and completely or partially under the control of different militant groups are under extreme food insecurity. Baluchistan is the largest province and with abundant natural recourses, is facing internal conflict since the 70s caused extreme food insecurity in 13 out of 26 districts. 2
The climate change is another factor that is contributing more than any factor in food insecurity globally because it affects the productivity of the crops, causes extreme weathers, heavy rains, flash floods and droughts. South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are most affected by climate change 3 and according to a study the wheat production in South Asia will decrease 50 % by 2010. 4
Pakistan is the 6th largest population in the world and with the current 2.1 population growth rate, the population is expected to get doubled by 2050. The rapid growth rate of population is a pressure on land. It caused to use of agricultural products at domestic level, increase in the landless workers and a shortage of food. Growth rate of agriculture sector is 1.2%
No poverty and zero hunger are top two good of global sustainable development agenda ensure that everyone has physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs that need for an active and healthy life. Eliminating poverty and achieving no hunger are pre-requisites for economic development. Food security and economic growth mutually reinforce each other in the development process 5. To meet the sustainable development goals, governance is the most important factor. Improved governance and management can ensure the food security in long run. In 2008 Pakistan has faced shortage besides bumper wheat crop. A large amount of wheat was exported without any proper assessment and rash decisions. That indicated that countries with food insecurity are likely to have bad governance systems. Unfortunately, food security has not remained the part of the national policy and used a political slogan 6.
Food security is a policy issue rather than just production process. In Pakistan, the focus of food security policies was on the production side to meet national food demand and never been seen as an access issue as well as the social dimensions of food insecurity. According to the constitution of Pakistan “The State shall: (d) provide basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, housing, education and medical relief, for all such citizens, irrespective of sex, caste, creed or race….”7
On the basis of the constitution a new social contract is required in to formulate food security policy as Pakistan is also bound to attain SDGs. To achieve these targets, a comprehensive and integrated policy is required and collective efforts must be introduced on a war-like footing.
Peace in the country is first and foremost requirement to attain the food security. In last two years, Pakistan has resorted peace in its conflict areas but it is important to provide help and support to people who have been displaced during military operations. It is difficult to maintain this fragile peace without food security in the long term.
To overcome its adverse effects of climate change government need to develop different varieties of crops those can adopt climate changes. There is a need to educate farmers in using new varieties having adaptive capacity to climate change and crop management practices, ultimately leading to get higher crop income from the land. To control the floods small dams need to build on emergency basis.
On the other hand country’s population is expected to double by 2050. Pakistan’s government needs to have a food security vision for 2050 in order to cater to the food demands of its millions of people.
Finally, this is not a war against armies, ideologies, or nations; rather, it is a war against the challenges faced by our civilization. It is more about transforming this earth into a sustainable, peaceful, and resourceful place.