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Dawn

Published Date: Mar 21, 2012

PM LAUNCHES PLAN TO END HUNGER

The government launched a ‘Zero Hunger Action Plan’ on Wednesday with a view to reducing the number of food insecure people in the country.
The number of people facing food insecurity has been estimated at 50 per cent of the country’s population by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, while unveiling the plan, asked the ministry to submit within a month the structure and budgetary requirements for approval of the action plan.
Addressing a national workshop on food security on the occasion, Mr Gilani announced that a ‘National Council for Food Security’ was being set up to act on priorities incorporated in the zero hunger action plan.
He said the government would ensure food security for women and children and help would be sought from international agencies and private sector for the purpose.
The six priorities proposed by the prime minister are to ensure school feeding programme in the most food insecure districts; nutrition programme for children under five; nutrition programme for pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers; targeted and conditional social safety nets; zero-hunger shops in low-income areas of major cities; and coordination among various federal and provincial ministries, and private-public partnership.
He said the government’s efforts consisted of two stages: during its first three and a half years focus remained on development of agriculture and livestock and now the time has come to move up from agriculture and livestock to food security and zero hunger.
The prime minister said wheat production has reached 25 million tons during the four years of the PPP government, adding Pakistan is recognised as a net wheat exporting country.
He said cotton production has reached a record 14.2 million bales level and rice is fetching higher prices due to quality improvement.
“We are also opening up US and Japan markets for mango and citrus fruits. We are beginning to make our presence felt in the halal meat export market as well,” he said.
Earlier, National Food Security and Research Secretary Shafqat Hussain Naghmi said the five-year hunger action plan would be worth $16 billion, adding the government would seek 80 per cent of the needed funds from the international donor community and the rest would be met from its own resources.
He said the projected expenditure during the first year of the plan would be $200 million, adding that the ministry had reached an agreement with the World Food Programme under which 500,000 tons of wheat from reserve stock would be given to the WFP. In return, he said, the UN agency would distribute nutrient food products among the food insecure population.