The Express Tribune
Published Date: Dec 10, 2015
Pakistan must pace its work, says WFP representative
Pakistani authorities need to take immediate action to achieve the targets of zero hunger in the country, rather than wait till the deadline of 2030, cautioned Lola Castro, representative of the World Food Program (WFP) in Pakistan.
She was addressing a session on ‘Food Security in Pakistan: Current Situation and the Way Forward’ at a four-day international conference in Islamabad.
Combatting hunger: 61 million Pakistanis are food insecure
“A large chunk of Pakistani population has no access to food despite the country having sufficient production,” said Castro, adding the problem occurs mostly to the poorer segments of the society during disasters.
She underlined the need to improve management systems ensuring the delivery of cheap food to each segment of the society.
Castro pointed out that Pakistan’s cost of agricultural produces is comparatively higher in the region.
Talking about subsidies, she emphasised the need of having a target subsidy for smaller farmers rather than subsidising powerful and big farmers.
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“South Asia is a major contributor of stunted population in the world with Pakistan, India and Bangladesh among the top ones, respective governments must therefore take steps to overcome this challenge.”
“It is surprising that a country producing almost 26 million tons of wheat has a portion of its population food insecure and with stunted children,” she stated.
Discussing the high prices of agriculture inputs in Pakistan, she pointed out the need for policy reforms to bring Pakistan’s agriculture products competitive and focus on diversification of crops.
There is food in warehouses but the people of Sindh are starving
Malik Zahoor Ahmed, National Coordinator of the Zero Hunger Program at the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, said that there is need for public-private partnership to overcome the challenge of malnutrition and hunger in the country.
He nevertheless accused the current and subsequent governments for sidelining agriculture in both research and policy.
“Large quantities of food are wasted due to poor storage mechanism,” said Ahmed, linking the high prices and resulting unavailability of food to extremism. Patrick Evans, chief of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations, said that Pakistan’s high population growth rate is also one of the key challenges.