Whither food security?

The timely provision of nutritious and robust food is a basic right of every human being, according to the international human manifesto.

Food insecurity has become the most serious problem in Pakistan. Food security refers to the availability of food as well as its ability to obtain it. A home is considered safe if no one in the household is hungry or at risk of starvation. When everyone has access to good, safe and nutritious food at all times to lead a healthy and active life.

Food insecurity happens when a person is unable to obtain enough healthy food on a regular basis. It causes persistent hunger and malnutrition, making it less likely for people to live long and productive lives. Meanwhile, poverty is widely acknowledged as a significant contributor of food insecurity. It is tough for people to raise their own food and purchase enough food. Due to low income levels and a lack of finances to engage in agriculture, many people in various locations are unable to raise their own food.

In other words, proper, balanced, nutritious and quality food increases the manpower and overall workforce of a society which is indispensable for productive purposes and activities. As a result of which productive activities come to a standstill. Stagnation of production activities affects the gross national product which has a detrimental effect on the national economy. Economic turmoil further leads to scarcity of productive resources, poverty, unemployment, inflation, inflation and consequently ignorance, conflict, civil war and instability.

Unfortunately, Pakistan is one of those countries where millions of people face food shortage amid economic hardships due to which hundreds of people lose their lives every year. More than 50 percent of Pakistan’s population is facing food insecurity, while around 40 percent country’s adolescents are struggling with stunned growth.

The basic components of development include a specific amount of clean water, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, salts and fats in every human body. Food security depends on four factors which include food production, economic access to food, stability in supply and proper use of food.

Economic turmoil and social discontent combine to cause political instability, and the nation, which is beset by crises, faces grave threats to its existence and security, with feelings of frustration, despair, bewilderment, and internal unrest. In the development process, economic development and food security are mutually beneficial. As a result, the issue of national food security is a national security concern.

Pakistan is an agricultural country but natural disasters and rising food prices in recent years are affecting its population like any other developing country.

Water scarcity causes a drop in agricultural productivity, which in turn leads to starvation and spread of diseases. Floods wreak havoc on agriculture and medical facilities, leaving farmers unable to care for their surviving livestock and themselves. Floods have also degraded productive land, increased bean and salt in the soil, and ruined agricultural and fishing equipment, making future crop production difficult for producers.

Human migration is also influenced by the great abundance of water. Many people assume that refugees flee their homes because of the violence, but the fact is that water scarcity is more prevalent than political unrest.

Former minister for national food security Syed Fakhar Imam said that it was the state’s responsibility to provide healthy food to the masses. “Entire world including Pakistan have been facing food crisis. Measurers [should be] taken to overcome this shortage,” he said.
While mentioning a survey on nutrition, the then minister said that the trend of malnutrition among children under the age of five has reached 44 percent which is a matter of concern.

Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan in an effort to eradicate hunger from the country had also launched initiative to provide food to the needy. In this regard, food trucks distributed boxes of meals to the deserving in what he touted as the country’s transformation towards a welfare state.

He said the food truck would provide meals to the poor twice a day to around 2000 people.
Addressing the Kissan convention last year, Imran Khan said that the food security in Pakistan has become a matter of concern and biggest challenge for the country. While emphasizing on starting measures to tackle the crisis, the PTI chairman said that we need to spread aware regarding food security, adding that the children of Pakistan are in dire condition. He said, “The children of the country are not getting proper food.”

Analysts insist that government policies have never been properly inclined towards addressing the plight of the most vulnerable.
“Our economic and financial policies have only exacerbated social and economic inequities while simultaneously increasing the number of people who are food insecure,” notes Dr Muhammad Abdul Kamal, an Assistant Professor at Mardan’s Abdul Wali Khan University.

“To avoid future food crises, the government must strive to improve the value chain of fruit and vegetable crops while also ensuring the availability of storage facilities.”

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