Fighting hunger — a clarion call
Raja Taimur Hassan
the government fails to meet the basic needs of the people,
the havens of terror often appear.
Hunger, poverty and
deprivation are widely debated to be the primary causes of
conflict and violence in a society.
Without ensuring an
individual’s security, one cannot guarantee national
Upon examination, we find
that our national security is closely linked with food
The alarming fact is that
58 per cent of the total population in the country is food
Sindh is the most
food-deprived province, followed by Balochistan. Seventy-two
per cent of the families in Sindh and 63.5 per cent in
Balochistan are facing food insecurity, of which almost 50
per cent women and children are malnourished.
Knowing all these facts, the government of Sindh has yet to
prepare any plan to cope with the alarming situation in Thar.
According to media reports, wheat and other basic food items
are being distributed in Tharparkar on the basis of 1998
census, considering the population has actually doubled
Other pressing challenges, such as extreme weather events,
surging food prices and devastating floods continue to
affect the poor and the most vulnerable.
A majority of them migrate
and others make ends meet by eating fewer meals per day and
selling off their land and livestock.
In Pakistan, more than 10 million children (45 per cent)
under the age of five are suffering from chronic
Of these, 3.5 million children (15 per cent) are acutely
directly or indirectly to almost 45 per cent of all deaths
among children of age five in Pakistan and some 43 per cent
of the children under the age of five are stunted.
Malnutrition among children
is also undermining their learning abilities.
Unlike other basic human rights, such as health and
education, the Constitution of Pakistan also ensures the
right to food for every citizen.
However, the policy draft on “agriculture and food security”
presented in the cabinet by the Ministry of National Food
Security & Research fails to address the food security and
The policy draft is no more
than a scientifically lopsided wish list. Food security
cannot be ensured only by increasing the availability of
The draft only focuses on availability of food, but lacks
other aspects of accessibility which include physical,
social and economic aspects that govern the provision of
There is also no mention of the national “Zero Hunger”
programme, which was inaugurated by former Prime Minister
Yousaf Raza Gilani in March 2012.
The framework for this programme is ready and all it needs
Availability of food at the right place at the right time is
an important issue. There is no centralised coordination
mechanism discussed in the policy draft at the federal
There have been no clear guidelines and no concrete
governance measures have been suggested for water management
and agricultural land utilisation.
Ways and means for enhancing production, sustainable
irrigation are some other major links missing in the draft.
Climate change is now becoming a serious threat to
individuals and to national security.
In the last five years, our
country has been hit hard by natural disasters, extreme
weather events and devastating floods, which have resulted
in mass displacement of people and the loss of billions of
High illiteracy, weak linkages with research, poor reach to
far-off farmers and lack of awareness are some critical
constraints to agriculture development in Pakistan — whereas
China and Brazil have raised their agriculture production to
double the produce per hectare as compared to Pakistan.
In Pakistan, educating the farmers and arming them with new
technology can build their capacity. The enhanced income,
especially of small farmers, will contribute towards
reducing poverty and hunger in rural areas.
As an outcome, such efforts
would contribute towards achieving the Millennium
Development Goal of halving world poverty and hunger.
The Express Tribune