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Daily Times

Published Date: Oct 30, 2012

GOVERNMENT TAKES MEASURES TO ENSURE FOOD SECURITY

The government has taken a number of measures like increase in wheat support price, provision of urea fertilizer in time and others which will help in ensuring food security in the country, sources told Daily Times here on Monday.

The government provides subsidy on fertilizer in order to encourage balanced input use for increasing agriculture production, Benazir Tractor scheme was also introduced to provide tractors at subsidised rates for improved farming practices.

The sources said that the government also provides research funds to Pakistan Agricultural Research Council and other provincial agriculture research institutes to promote research activity for high yielding and disease resistant varieties of food crops for better production.

National programme for improvement of water courses in Pakistan was formulated and water conservation and productivity enhancement through high efficiency irrigation system.

According to a study titled ‘Food Insecurity in Pakistan, 2009’ conducted by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in 2009, 48.6 percent of the population was food insecure. Out of which 22.4 percent of the population was extremely poor.

According to the National Nutrition Survey 2011 conducted by the Benazir Income Support Programme, government of Pakistan, around 58 percent of the population was food insecure. Of the total food insecure population, 29.6 percent population was food insecure with hunger and severe hunger.

The Ministry of National Food Security and Research presented a ‘National Zero Hunger Programme’ to the prime minister and it was approved.

The ministry officials have held consultations with the World Food Programme (WFP), which is one of the main stakeholders in the proposed Zero Hunger Programme. A draft Zero Hunger Action Plan prepared by WFP was also examined and found lacking in operational details. To prepare a comprehensive Zero Hunger plan with clearly spelt out activities and modalities, further engagements with donors and local stakeholders would be required.

As food assistance to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) forms an integral part of the proposed Zero Hunger Programme, recently, on the request of government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and WFP for food assistance for IDPs due to critical food supply situation in FATA, Ministry of NFS&R in a summary submitted to the government, which proposed that 50,000 tonnes of wheat out of Pakistan Agricultural Services and Storage Corporation’s reserves may be donated to the WFP. The cost of 50,000 tonnes of wheat is Rs 1.546 billion, which will be picked up by the government of Pakistan. With this wheat, WFP would be able to provide fortified flour and high energy biscuits to 1.2 million IDPs till December 2012.

The sources further said that the government has constituted a National Price Monitoring Committee headed by the finance secretary with the representatives of federal ministries and provincial departments. The committee meets every month.

In addition, the Cabinet and the Economic Committee of the Cabinet monitor the prices of essential items and take corrective measures to ensure that the prices remain under check.