Ostrich approach to food security

2017-10-17T04:13:11+05:00 MAHMOOD SADIQ

Lahore - Pakistan remains in a denial mode on the issue of food security as the world marked the day on this pressing global issue on Monday.

Malnutrition is prevalent in this country of more than 210 million bellies. According to the World Food Programme, 43 percent of Pakistanis are food insecure.

The Washington-based IFPRI on Thursday released its fresh Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2017, showing that Pakistan remains at the lowest level – on 106th place among 119 developing countries.

With more than 22 percent of its population undernourished and lagging behind even India and most of the African states, Pakistan faces serious hunger problem that could become more alarming in the coming years.

The crisis is more serious for the children as lack of both quality and quantity of food causes excess disease and deaths among them. As per the UN data, 45 percent of Pakistani children under five are stunted, 32 percent are underweight and 15 percent suffer from acute malnutrition. But authorities won’t admit it. Federal Minister of National Food Security and Research claimed in January this year that the country is not facing any food insecurity since it has a surplus of basic staples such as wheat, sugar, rice, etc.

The minister is probably not aware that food security is not just about producing enough food; it is more about its nutritional value and variety as well as people’s access to it.

World Food Programme’s Country Director Lola Castro in September last year admitted that Pakistan does not have an issue with food production but she said that both the quality and quantity of food available to most poor and illiterate Pakistanis was not enough to meet their basic nutritional needs.

Finding himself reeling under the weight of the grave IFPRI report, Ministry of National Food Security and Research Senior Adviser Malik Zahoor on Monday was forced to admit the failure of the state to eliminate hunger and malnutrition.

He told the representatives of relevant non-government organisations at a small gathering in Islamabad that the security and economy were interlinked.

Malik Zahoor pointed out many problems but failed to give any solution, besides suggesting a new regulatory authority for food safety standards.

Food Minister Sikander Hayat Bosan and Secretary Fazal Abbas Maken, who were also there to mark World Food Day, simply avoided discussing IFPRI report and its alarming findings.

The ministry and its affiliated bodies continue to overlook the real metrics and determinants of food security, focusing solely on crop production to present a picture of food-rich Pakistan.

There is a famine-like situation in Thar almost every year and many children die of different diseases caused by malnutrition there, but the National Food Security officials won’t do anything to find a permanent solution. It’s not just Thar desert where children suffer because of the faulty food policy. The poor, especially children all across Pakistan, even in big cities and high food production areas, remain starved and malnourished. Keeping our head buried in sand won’t do. We will have to feed our people and feed them proper if we want a strong and healthy Pakistan!

IFPRI report, Ministry of National Food Security and Research Senior Adviser Malik Zahoor on Monday was forced to admit the failure of the state to eliminate hunger and malnutrition.

He told the representatives of relevant non-government organisations at a small gathering in Islamabad that the security and economy were interlinked.

Malik Zahoor pointed out many problems but failed to give any solution, besides suggesting a new regulatory authority for food safety standards.

Food Minister Sikander Hayat Bosan and Secretary Fazal Abbas Maken, who were also there to mark World Food Day, simply avoided discussing IFPRI report and its alarming findings.

The ministry and its affiliated bodies continue to overlook the real metrics and determinants of food security, focusing solely on crop production to present a picture of food-rich Pakistan.

There is a famine-like situation in Thar almost every year and many children die of different diseases caused by malnutrition there, but the National Food Security officials won’t do anything to find a permanent solution. It’s not just Thar desert where children suffer because of the faulty food policy. The poor, especially children all across Pakistan, even in big cities and high food production areas, remain starved and malnourished. Keeping our head buried in sand won’t do. We will have to feed our people and feed them proper if we want a strong and healthy Pakistan!

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