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Weekly Technology Times

Published Date: Dec 10, 2014

Govt wants country to become food secure

Stressing the need to produce essential food items by 60% to cater to
the needs of growing population in the country, Minister for National
Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Bosan said the government is
keen in developing collaborations for food secure Pakistan.

He was speaking as chief guest at a session on ‘Food Security in Pakistan: issues and Way Forward’ on the occasion of 17th Sustainable Development Conference (SDC), organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in Islamabad.

He said the government has already introduced pilot programmes for
zero-hunger and family farming, which will be replicated throughout the
country in near future.

Chairing the same session, Secretary for the ministry, Seerat Asghar
Jaura, said that our priorities need to be redirected for food security.
He added that the budget for the Ministry of Food Security and Research
is merely one billion rupees for the year 2014-15, which clearly shows
that food security is not a priority of the government. Pakistan needs
to learn from China and India in order to achieve food security because
these countries have really excelled in this sector.

Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, the Executive Director of Sustainable
Development Policy Institute, maintained that the issue of governance is
a major impediment to food security in Pakistan, and this issue can
somehow be tackled if we have third tier of the government (local
government) in place. He said that food security can be referred as food
sustainability. “Food security in Pakistan is mainly dependent on three
factors, i.e. food availability, food access, and food utilization.
Another important aspect, which is often been over looked is the
availability of clean drinking water” said Dr Suleri.

Partick T. Evans, the Country Representative of Food and Agriculture Organization said that it’s an irony that we are 8th largest agriculture country, 6th largest producer of apricot, 5th largest
producer of milk and grower of 25 million metric ton of wheat last year
but over 50% of the population is food insecure and tragically around
40% of the children are stunted with food insecurity. He pointed out
that the major problem in Pakistan is access to food.

Dr Krishna Pahari, Head of Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping Unit of
World Food Programme stressed the need to set up monitoring and
evaluation department on food security to keep an eye on food security
and related areas. “Pakistan’s joining the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN)
movement is a right step towards food security, as it will help
eliminate malnutrition from the country. “ He said though, Pakistan is
not performing badly on Global Hunger Index (GHI), it can further be
improved given the abundance of food we produce.

Dr Shakeel Ahmed Khan, the Food Security Commissioner in Ministry of
National Food Security and Research said that food security is a serious
issue in Pakistan especially during the years of droughts and floods.
The Ministry, he said, is now focusing on a policy that will help
farmers produce nutritious food and meanwhile the focus will also remain
on sustainable growth in other food commodities. He suggested that
climate smart agriculture policy should be adopted and implemented to
cater to the impact of floods in the country.

The second session on ‘Planning in the 21st Century’, was
chaired by Dr Khaqan Najeeb, Director-General, Finance Division. He
said that planning and policy making are the initial steps towards
sustainable development, as the scope has expanded from conventional
growth to sustainable growth and that requires a more refined and
re-inventive way of planning. “There has been an observed change from
centralized planning towards devolution over the past decade in
Pakistan, he maintained.

Dr Aliya H. Khan, the Dean of Social Sciences at Quaid-i-Azam
University, Islamabad, highlighted that in order to devise a future
plan, it is necessary to recall history. For many years, Pakistan has
put forth five-year development plans each similar to the previous but
today finally five year plans have been linked to long-term plans as
well, she said, adding that it is encouraging to note that Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) are linked to Vision 2025. She mentioned that
after the 18th Amendment, coordination and understanding between federal and provincial units is a key to sustainable growth.

Dr Pradeep Mehta, Consumer Unity and Trust Society-International
(CUTS), emphasized the importance of fiscal federalism and how it is
central in planning. He said that every institution is formed on a good
vision of growth and development but it is the implementation of these
visions that shape the outcome.

Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, International Union for Conservation of Nature, while chairing the session on ‘The Impact of Climate Change on Mangrove Eco-Systems in South Asia
said that in the past 7 to 8 years vegetation cover has risen due to
community efforts by different organizations for plantations. Cherian
Mathews, Oxfam’s Regional Director Asia urged the need for urgent ‘no
regret’ management strategies that reduce the impact of local stresses
to the mangrove ecosystem while maintaining ecological resilience. He
called for implementation on the laws protecting mangroves ecosystem.
Muhammad Ali Shah from Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum warned against
reclaiming of land from sea for housing purposes saying it has been
devastating the delta and mangrove ecosystem.

Kashif Majeed Salik, SDPI Research Associate, highlighted the findings
of a study by SDPI on Socio-economic Vulnerability of the mangrove
ecosystems to climate change in South Asia; A case study of the Indus
and Ganges Deltas. He said that mangroves are very important in
protecting land from disasters like cyclones, tsunamis and floods.
Vulnerability was done on the basis of systems exposure, sensitivity and
adaptive capacity.

Chairing the session on ‘Policies, Regulations and Environmental Compliance in Textile Industry in South Asia, Dr
Tariq Banuri, Professor at the University of Utah, US, said that Sri
Lankan model on textile regulations for the environmental regulations
should be replicated in Pakistan according to which research
institutions and the government can collaborate for better the
implementation of the policies.

Dr Rehana Siddique, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, was of
the view that new institutional framework is required for the
establishment of Environmental regulations and compliance in Textile
industry in all South Asian countries.

Waseem Gulzar from SDPI suggested that combination of regulatory and
non-regulatory measures will jointly work to reduce occupational hazards
in the textile sector of Pakistan. There should be regular checks on
chemical industry producing sub-standard chemicals, dyes and paints.
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