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Daily Times

Published Date: Mar 22, 2012

GOVT COMMITTED TO ENSURING FOOD SECURITY: GILANI

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Wednesday said the government is committed to ensure food security and protect fundamental right of every citizen to be free from hunger.
Speaking at a National Workshop on Food Security in Pakistan ‘Future Challenges and Coping Strategies’, he said now the time is right to put all the pieces together and move up from agriculture and livestock to ‘Food Security and Zero Hunger’. In this quest, two landmark decisions by his government have changed the very dynamics of decision making and governance in the country, he said adding these landmark decisions are 7th National Finance Commission (NFC) Award and the 18th Amendment.
“Through the 7th NFC Award, we ensured that provinces get due share in available resources and through the 18th Amendment, we empowered the federating units to take initiatives for social sector development,” he continued.
The prime minister unveiled Pakistan’s first ever Zero Hunger Action Plan drafted by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research.
This plan is the outcome of a long process of deliberations that culminated into a five-day workshop in which experts from Pakistan and abroad sat together to share their expertise and experiences, he added. He expressed gratitude to all the conference participants and to WFP, UNICEF, UNDP, USDA, USAID, SDPI, Oxfam and FAO who brought experts from Indonesia and Rome to share their best practices.
“We have achieved extraordinary success during the first four years of my government. Wheat production has reached its highest level of 25 million tonnes. We have exportable surplus and are now recognised as a net wheat exporting country,” he informed. He said sugarcane production is a record 63 million tonnes and for the first time in the history of Pakistan, they are expecting five million tonnes of sugar production.
“It is my government’s achievement that the sugar prices have gone down. Although the floods have damaged our cotton crop areas and our cotton farmers suffered more than any other farmer group, there has been substantial improvement in the yield due to which our cotton production has also reached a record level of 14.2 million bales.”
“Let us not forget rice. As our major export commodity, rice is fetching higher prices due to quality improvement. We are also opening up high-end markets such as USA and Japan for our horticulture crops like mango and citrus. We are beginning to make our presence felt in the halal meat export market as well,” he disclosed. Gilani said, “During the first three-and-a-half-year, our conscious attention was on development of agriculture and livestock, and by the grace of Allah, we have achieved historic success.” He pointed the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has already been devolved to give provinces more powers to legislate, plan and implement extension and development programs for food, agriculture and livestock.
He assured that the Ministry of National Food Security and Research through its Zero Hunger Action Plan would not duplicate what the provincial departments of agriculture, food, livestock or fisheries are doing.
Rather, it will facilitate and support the efforts of the federating units in fulfilling this vital goal envisioned originally by Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Gilani added. The ministry will mobilise international support to help reduce hunger and malnutrition in the country, he said adding the role of the Ministry is to develop plans and policies, organise resources and ensure achievement of desired results.