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The Statesman

Published Date: Jul 17, 2011


Persistent food insecurity and militancy nexus may cause civil unrest and is a threat to overall peace of society.

This was discussed at a brainstorming session with selected parliamentarians to discus “Relationship between Food Insecurity, Poverty, Extremism and Conflict”, jointly organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and United States Institute for peace (USIP), here on Tuesday.

Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, said that we are facing policy led insecurities in Pakistan. He explained that there are four dimensions to food insecurity being individual, national, regional, and global security and they are all interlinked so steps need to be taken to curb it on an individual level so to prevent it from reaching higher levels. He said that policy led vulnerabilities reduce our resilience and we need to invest in individual security to build individual resilience, a must for all levels of securities.

“One insecurity breeds another insecurity and it is not surprising that most of the food insecure districts in Pakistan are also marred by disasters and various forms of militancy and violence”, he added.

Dr. Suleri quoted recently published “Food Insecurity Report Pakistan” by SDPI, which comes up with substantial evidence that inter and intra provincial disparities exist in terms of food security. FATA has the highest percentage of food insecure population (67.7 percent) followed by Balochistan (61.2 percent), and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) (56.2 percent He informed that the lowest percentage of food insecure population (23.6 percent) is in Islamabad.

Wazir Ahmad Jogezai, Former Deputy Speaker National Assembly, said that Pakistanis facing a governance crisis rather than food crisis. He was of the view that clear vision, efficient policies and better management at government level can address the ever lasting food scarcity in Balochistan. He said that there is lack of capacity in terms of food storage, thus creating a constant uncertainty regarding availability of wheat stock. He said that food insecurity encapsulates the whole life of an individual, influencing his behaviour and imprinting good or bad effects on individual which dictate course of his life. He said that uncertainty of food results in all kinds of social evils. He cited recent tsunami in Japan which caused destruction on unprecedented scale. But even this disaster didn’t cause any hoarding, looting, instability or chaos. He explained that this happened mainly due to provision of basic necessities, food, health, education and individual security by state.

Mir Jan Muhammad Jamali, Deputy Chairman Senate termed ban on Inter-provincial movement of wheat as unconstitutional and demands its immediate lifting to gratify the needs of people starving in far flung corners of the country.

He stressed upon the need to introduce innovative techniques so as to feed over 180 million population of Pakistan and talked about population control in context of depleting resources at hand. He said that future of the world is connected to water, food and energy security and if this is not ensured, we must prepare for dangerous repercussion.

He further stated that Iran is sustaining food supplies of Balochistan for a long time, especially in Makran region. He stressed upon the need to improve food insecurity in Balochistan and asked to devise policies to support livestock in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa where large chunk of population is directly depended on livestock for their food intake, livelihood and ultimate survival.

Nazar Muhammad Gondal, Former Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture talked about food consumption patterns in various parts of the country. He said that earlier there was diversity of food consumption with heterogeneous intake in different provinces i.e. rice was used as a staple food in Sindh, corn in KP, and barley in Balochistan. But with heavy subsidisation of wheat, it has become the staple food through the country.

He said that Pakistan exports around 1.5 million metric ton surplus of wheat every year and this surplus amount needs proper storage capacity. According to him, large amount of wheat and other food stock is wasted due to inappropriate storage.

Nafisa Shah, MNA PPP and Chairperson NCHD discussed food insecurity in view of post 18th amendment scenario. She suggested developing integrated policies involving food, education, health and individual security to build resilience people and reduce their vulnerabilities against social evils and all kind of insecurities. She also recommended improving stock storage, enhancing yield, better distribution and providing vulnerability cover to the poor communities. – INFN