The prices of fuel have fallen, and quiet drastically. Yet there seems to be no corresponding decline in food prices. Barring ghee and cooking oil, prices of most of the items produced by multinational companies and the private sector units are still intact. The wholesale prices of rice and sugar have fallen, yet they retail at the same rates. Wholesalers had claimed last month that there would be cuts in the transportation charges from upcountry goods carriers by Rs3,000-5,000 but it seems that they are in no mood to pass on relief. Consumers are suffering because of ineffective price checks. In Karachi only 50 officials are assigned to check profiteering in 18 towns having population of 20 million, so any price differences cant really be effectively monitored.

This is not the only factor that will allow food price inflation to continue. A lot of transport is reliant on CNG, and does not get to benefit from the fall in fuel prices. Less and less land is cultivated every year. Despite the growth in production of staple crops, Pakistan has experienced a sharp decline in food security. Militant activity, natural disasters, and economic instability are to blame for this. The floods destroyed infrastructure, left almost 20 million people without access to food, clean water, and health services, and severely damaged the country’s agricultural sector. We have not even addressed this damage to our agriculture yet. The climate has also become increasingly erratic. There is no regular pattern of rain and snowfall has increased in Northern Pakistan. Warming in the Himalayas is higher than the global average coupled with mixed trend of rains in the mountainous region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. We do not understand the changes that are happening in our weather system and have very few climate stations in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Our food insecure population rose from 38 percent of the total population to over 55 percent, i.e. almost 90 million people between 2003 and 2012. It may all be irreversible. But with crisis after crisis, we are unable to deal will one problem before we are distracted and bludgeoned by another.