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The Express Tribune

Published Date: Oct 17, 2014

World Food Day: Call for empowering farmers, improving food access

ISLAMABAD: Experts on
Thursday called for widespread land and agriculture sector reforms that
will empower small farmers which will in turn ensure food security in
the country.

Speaking at a seminar on “Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth” at
the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in connection with
the World Food Day, they said food security is on the decline in
Pakistan.

 />
</p>
<p>
Economist Dr Pervez Tahir said food was available in Pakistan but was<br />
inaccessible to many due to income inequality. “We are not just facing<br />
food insecurity. The major issue here is the human insecurity,” he<br />
added.
</p>
<p>
“Establishment of a food ministry is not the solution. What is needed<br />
is addressing the actual issues,” he said, and criticised the<br />
abolishment of subsidies for the agriculture sector. He added that most<br />
farmers did not own land and could contribute more if given land.
</p>
<p>
SDPI Executive Director Abid Suleri said half of the population is<br />
food insecure. The recent figures, he said, revealed that physical food<br />
availability in the country has been increasing but socio-economic<br />
access to food and food utilisation show a declining trend.
</p>
<p>
Suleri said that 2,100 kilo calories per person is the standard<br />
amount of calorie intake whereas Pakistan has a nutrition value of 1700<br />
kilo calories per person. He said a high number of under nourished<br />
children in the country is posing a serious threat to the intellectual<br />
development of the country.
</p>
<p>
Ministry of Food Security and Research Joint Secretary Saleem Sadiq<br />
said transformation of small farmers into farm entrepreneurs, equal land<br />
distribution and research on food processing, handling and management<br />
was a way to tackle food insecurity.
</p>
<p>
<strong>Arid varsity seminar</strong>
</p>
<p>
Speakers at another seminar on World Food Day at the Pir Mehr Ali<br />
Shah Arid Agriculture University (PMAS AAUR) Rawalpindi also stressed<br />
promotion of small family farming which has the potential to nourish the<br />
hungry, stimulate economies, and protect the environment.
</p>
<p>
The session was jointly organised by Indus Consortium, Oxfam Pakistan and the varsity.
</p>
<p>
PMAS AAUR Vice Chancellor Dr Rai Niaz Ahmad said food insecurity is<br />
one the most tangible threats facing Pakistan. “This threat cannot be<br />
mitigated by a variable increase in food production alone, but by<br />
efforts to drastically improve access to food sources and clean drinking<br />
water.”
</p>
<p>
According to the National Nutrition Survey 2013, around 60 per cent<br />
of Pakistan’s total population is facing food insecurity. Furthermore,<br />
an estimated 35 per cent of child deaths (under the age of five) in the<br />
country are linked to malnutrition, while the World Health Organisation<br />
labels a national average of 15 per cent or above as an “emergency”.</p>
<p>Source : http://tribune.com.pk/story/776705/world-food-day-call-for-empowering-farmers-improving-food-access/</p>
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