Food security issues and the
security is in fact much more than just food production,
distribution and consumption. Food is the top most priority
of everybody since our inception.
It gives us energy to grow
and live stronger. Apart from dietary needs, food has a
cultural value as well. Many cultures hold some food
preferences and some food taboos. Dietary choices can also
define cultures and play a role in religion.
For example, only halal
foods are permitted by Islam, kosher foods by Judaism, and
in Hinduism beef is restricted.
In addition, the dietary
choices of different countries or regions have different
characteristics. This is highly related to a culture's
cuisine.How to define food security? The World Food Summit
(1996) defines it as, "food security exists when all people,
at all times, have physical and economic access to
sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary
needs, and their food preferences are met for an active and
healthy life." The right to food is a human right derived
from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights (ICESCR), recognizing the "right to an
adequate standard of living, including adequate food", as
well as the "fundamental right to be free from hunger".
Food safety and food
sovereignty are other terminologies very common in the food
related discussions. Food safety describes handling,
preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent
foodborne illness. Food can transmit disease from person to
person as well as serve as a growth medium for bacteria that
can cause food poisoning. In some countries, there are
complex standards for food preparation, whereas in poor
countries the main issue is simply the availability of
adequate safe water, which is usually a critical item. The
five key principles of food hygiene, according to WHO, are:
1. Prevent contaminating food with pathogens spreading from
people, pets, and pests.
2. Separate raw and cooked foods to prevent contaminating
the cooked foods.
3. Cook foods for the appropriate length of time and at the
appropriate temperature to kill pathogens.
4. Store food at the proper temperature.
5. Do use safe water and cooked materials.
Food sovereignty, a term
coined by members of Via Campesina in 1996, is about the
right of peoples to define their own food systems. Advocates
of food sovereignty puts the people who produce, distribute
and consume food at the centre of decisions on food systems
and policies, rather than the demands of markets and
corporations that they believe have come to dominate the
global food system. This movement is advocated by a number
of farmers, peasants, pastoralists, fisherfolk, indigenous
peoples, women, rural youth and environmental organizations.
How to secure food? If the
food distribution systems and the patterns of food
consumption in our society are somehow rationalized, there
is enough food already being produced and available all over
the world. For instance, let us take the food consumption
aspect alone and we find that our dietary needs have already
been reduced over the time due to our changing lifestyle in
which we do not have much physical activity. Essentially, we
need small amount of food to provide energy to our body.
Since eating is also a source of leisure and amusement, we
serve and eat food irrationally.
Moreover, we also abandoned
our traditional healthy food habits substituting them with
packed and fast foods. Fatness, obesity and related medical
disorders are now very common as a result of new lifestyle
and changing food habits.
Food for thought: if we go
through our routine food menu or the food we currently take
in, the "real-food" is in fact meager as compared to a large
quantity & variety of "junk-food". Junk-food is injurious to
health but we still prefer to take it because we consider
food as an enjoyment rather than a body-need. Or in other
words, "we take it because it tastes good and it satisfies
our obsessive appetite"
In spite of appended above
facts, there are many issues to be rectified in the system
of food production as well. Modern agricultural technologies
have affected the aroma, taste and the culture of food. New
food varieties with increased use of chemical fertilizers
and pesticides have had a severe health impact directly and
indirectly. Direct health impacts involve consumption of
contaminated food and water with chemical pesticides &
fertilizers. The indirect health impacts involve
environmental degradation; climate change; extermination of
local variety of food and uncultivated food; loss of
Other issues that
contribute to ongoing food insecurity in the country are
discussed as under:
current estimated population is over 188 millionmaking it
the world's sixth most-populous country in the world. During
1950–2012, Pakistan's urban population expanded over
sevenfold, while the total population increased by over
fourfold. As a consequence, a lot more food is currently
needed to meet dietary requirements of the masses.
Urbanization: The growing
populations of urban areas and new urban settlements are
currently making food security even more challenging. The
fertile land outside cities available and used earlier for
food cultivation, livestock and dairy farming is now
increasingly been converted into housing sectors. As
consequence, rural agriculture sector has got immense
pressure to produce and provide food to huge numbers of
urban settlers. Kitchen gardening has traditionally been the
central feature of households and a source of fresh
vegetables and fruits. Houses were often had a garden space
in the backyard for kitchen gardening that has completely
been abandoned due to population and housing pressure.
Cash Crops replacing Food
Crops: With the introduction of so called Green Revolution
agriculture technologies in the country, agriculture has
become a rich-men business. While poor farmers are failing
to meet the increased cost of agricultural production and
are suffering economic losses; the rich-ones and opportunist
investors have replaced food crops with cash crops such as
cotton, sugarcane, Kinoo, tobacco, banana, etc.
Gender Role and
Discrimination: Women are involved from three dimensions of
food security, i.e., production, availability and
accessibility. At household level, women play a decisive
role in food security, dietary diversity and children's
health. Pakistani women remain involved in various stages of
food production not only in family farms but also in others
farms in the village. Because of their responsibilities of
fetching water, collecting fodder, firewood and crop
residue, grazing animals, and collecting plants and herbs
for either own use or to sell as food or medicine, they
remain closely associated with natural resources and
therefore have better knowledge about them.
It has been observed that
with the introduction of green revolution technologies and
heavy farm machinery i.e. tractor, harvester, thresher,
etc., women participation in agricultural activities have
consistently been limiting and food insecurity at the rural
level is linked with change in gender roles in agriculture.
Given women's crucial role in food production and provision,
strategies for sustainable food security must address their
limited access to productive resources including access to
land, assets and financial resources.
Degradation of Ecology: Due to local interventions i.e. use
of chemicals in agriculture, deforestation and industrial
pollution, and natural disorders i.e. climate change and
global warming, the ecosystems of the country have been
effected negatively. As a consequence, cultivable land in
consistently decreasing and weathers are consistently
changing that have an impact on food production.
Food Sovereignty being compromised: The major food sector is
currently being controlled by the multinational/national
corporate sector i.e. Monsanto, Engro, etc. and the market
forces. The government has repeatedly failed to protect
right of its peoples to produce, distribute and consume food
for themselves, rather than on the demands of markets and
Politics in Food: Lastly, the food has remained a subject of
politics as well. At many instances, surplus food remained
available in one corner of the country but poor people were
allowed to die of hunger at other corner at the same time.
Similarly, it has also been reported repeatedly in the media
that a bulk of food was exported by the government and
vested groups despite food insecurity prevailing in the