ISLAMABAD (APP) - Minister for Food and Agriculture Nazar Muhammad Gondal said on Wednesday that Pakistan was proactively participating in international initiatives aimed at ensuring food security in the country. To mitigate the impact of food inaccessibility to poor and vulnerable segments of the society we have mobilized our resources as well as started collaboration with international development partners/agencies, he said while addressing a seminar on problems of food insurity here at National Press Club. The seminar was organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI). Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Wolfgang Herbinga Country Director World Food Programme and Pius Rohner Country Director Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation were also present on the occasion. Ther Minister said as a peoples government we have introduced a major shift in policy of social protection by moving from blanket to targeted subsidies. In line with this policy shift, he said Benazir Income Support Programme has been implemented and during last year under the programme Rs. 22 billion were provided to 3.5 million households and this year funding has been enhanced to the tune of Rs.70 billion. The Benazir Income Support Programme targets poor and vulnerable households and authorizes women for cash transfers, he said adding that this programme is also complemented with already existing safety net programmes like Baitul Mal scheme, Zakat and Usher schemes and provincial food initiatives. Nazar Muhammad Gondal said ensuring food security has become a challenging task in the backdrop of soaring food prices of 2007-08, a phenomenon that badly impacted a number of developing and food importing countries across the globe. This situation, he said has further aggravated by the economic melt down of 2009. In fact, the soaring food prices and financial crisis have eroded the food security gains made over a number of years. Therefore, this is a welcome effort on the part of Sustainable Development Policy Institute, World Food Programme and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation to examine the situation and evaluate state of food security in Pakistan, he remarked. He said that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture would benefit form the information generated in the report while developing programmes aimed at poverty reduction and ensuring food security. We all know that during last four years food insecurity and poverty have increased. The State of Food (in) Security in Pakistan has depicted this trend; however, we have to look upon the magnitude projected in this report and similar type of surveys being undertaken by other organizations. Currently, Federal Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Finance is conducting a Panel-Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement (PSLM) Survey, he said. This survey, he added, would also assess the countrys vulnerability to food crises and impact of food prices on household consumption. The report of the survey is expected in December this year.