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Govt to establish a centralized database for food stock

To ensure that the country does not face a shortage of essential food items, the cabinet on Tuesday decided to set up a database to maintain a record of food stock.

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During the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, it was decided that a centralized database to maintain record of stocks of essential food items available should be with the federal and provincial governments to guarantee that the country does not face shortage.

Several other decisions were also taken in the cabinet meeting which was chaired by Prime minister Imran Khan. These decisions included deferring a proposal to exempt Kartarpur (Sikhs’ religious site) project from the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry while addressing a press conference outside Parliament House after the cabinet meeting said that during last year wheat and  flour shortage, it came to the notice of the federal government that there was no database available to check how much of the commodity was available in the country and where, therefore the cabinet has decided to maintain a database to keep a record of the essential food items.

Read More: Enhancing agricultural productivity to tackle food insecurity

This would allow the government to take a decision on demand and supply as well as transportation, assess prices and further strengthen cooperation between the federal and provincial governments, he added.

Under the system, the centre will have the latest information on the sale and purchase of wheat by provinces as their governments would be bound to share details of wheat stocks with the centre.

The minister said that during last year’s crisis, the centre did not know how much wheat was available with the Sindh government.

In Pakistan, food availability is not the real problem – the real issue lies in affordability and inequitable distribution across the country that leads to price distortions, supply chain losses and inadequate availability in some districts. The situation is exacerbated for the vulnerable groups of women and children, and two-thirds of the population who live in rural areas that lack market access.

Read More: Food security in danger: Pakistan Economy Watch

The future of food security in Pakistan depends on how well the government achieves its objectives outlined in the national food security policy. However, this would require strong coordination and trust between the provincial and federal governments.

Mr Chaudhry also informed that the cabinet had allowed the transportation of a few containers from Karachi to Kabul considering the requests of the United Nations Assistance Mission (UNMA) in Afghanistan and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

For the effective implementation of the the UN Security Council Resolution 1540 regarding control of the export of goods, technology and instruments related to nuclear and biological weapons, and enforcement of the government’s commitment to check the spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction, the cabinet approved the delegation of some powers to the Strategic Export Control Division (SECDIV) so timely decisions could be made in this regard.

PM Khan pressed for early completion of the process of electronic voting machine and the right of vote to overseas Pakistanis during the meeting.  He also briefed the on the progress on negotiations with the banned Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).

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