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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Food security in danger: Pakistan Economy Watch

With continuous price hikes, Pakistan's food security is in danger. Chairman of Pakistan Economy Watch stresses the government need to invest in the agriculture sector.

Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW), on Thursday, has stated that the issue of food security within the country is intensifying and it should be handled properly at the earliest.

Pakistan, a country ransacked with all sorts of social problems, may soon find its food security at risk.

Recent price hikes

Last year Pakistan had an inflation rate of 10.74 per cent. The high levels of inflation within the country have led to an increase in the price of food items and this requires policy and administrative action by the government.

The high inflation rate remains a challenge for the PTI government as it faces criticism for not being able to manage it.

Read more: Who is responsible for increase in wheat and flour prices?

In January, Peshawar alone witnessed a 30 per cent increase in essential commodities which include sugar, rice, and pulses. Many of the commodities went missing after the price hike.

Recently, on Friday, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) decided to increase the price of ghee from Rs 170 per kg to Rs 200 per kg.

If the continuous price hike is not controlled, then the public will be pushed into poverty.

According to the Chairman of PEW Brig. (retd) Aslam Khan, coronavirus has also dented efforts to reduce poverty while the food mafia has banked on the opportunity to maximise profits on the cost of the masses.

“Before the coronavirus pandemic, food security had posed a serious threat to our national security but the threat has become even more noticeable since the pandemic which has the potential to aggravate poverty,” he observed.

Read more: World Bank says coronavirus will badly disrupt the food supply chain

The agriculture sector needs government support

To ensure Pakistan’s food security, the agriculture sector needs both government and private investment. For the agriculture sector to flourish, ample water supply, quality seed, pesticides and urea are required. These will increase the crop yield as according to economic law, a high supply will decrease price levels.

The government should look into making agricultural infrastructure sustainable. Aslam Khan also stressed the removal of trade distortions and the importance of increasing crop production.

Issues like the degradation of agricultural lands and forests, loss of biodiversity and pollution in rivers as well as the canal system should also be tackled without delay, he demanded.