Govt wants country to become food secure

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Stressing the need to produce essential food items by 60% to cater to the needs of growing population in the country, Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Bosan said the government is keen in developing collaborations for food secure Pakistan.


He was speaking as chief guest at a session onFood Security in Pakistan: issues and Way Forwardon the occasion of 17thSustainable Development Conference (SDC), organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in Islamabad.


He said the government has already introduced pilot programmes for zero-hunger and family farming, which will be replicated throughout the country in near future.


Chairing the same session, Secretary for the ministry, Seerat Asghar Jaura, said that our priorities need to be redirected for food security. He added that the budget for the Ministry of Food Security and Research is merely one billion rupees for the year 2014-15, which clearly shows that food security is not a priority of the government. Pakistan needs to learn from China and India in order to achieve food security because these countries have really excelled in this sector.


Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, the Executive Director of Sustainable Development Policy Institute, maintained that the issue of governance is a major impediment to food security in Pakistan, and this issue can somehow be tackled if we have third tier of the government (local government) in place. He said that food security can be referred as food sustainability. “Food security in Pakistan is mainly dependent on three factors, i.e. food availability, food access, and food utilization. Another important aspect, which is often been over looked is the availability of clean drinking water” said Dr Suleri.


Partick T. Evans, the Country Representative of Food and Agriculture Organization said that its an irony that we are 8thlargest agriculture country, 6thlargest producer of apricot, 5thlargest producer of milk and grower of 25 million metric ton of wheat last year but over 50% of the population is food insecure and tragically around 40% of the children are stunted with food insecurity. He pointed out that the major problem in Pakistan is access to food.


Dr Krishna Pahari, Head of Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping Unit of World Food Programmestressed the need to set upmonitoring and evaluation department on food security to keep an eye on food security and related areas. “Pakistans joining the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement is a right step towards food security, as it will help eliminate malnutrition from the country. ” He said though, Pakistan is not performing badly on Global Hunger Index (GHI), it can further be improved given the abundance of food we produce.


Dr Shakeel Ahmed Khan, the Food Security Commissioner in Ministry of National Food Security and Research said that food security is a serious issue in Pakistan especially during the years of droughts and floods. The Ministry, he said, is now focusing on a policy that will help farmers produce nutritious food and meanwhile the focus will also remain on sustainable growth in other food commodities. He suggested that climate smart agriculture policy should be adopted and implemented to cater to the impact of floods in the country.


The second session onPlanning in the 21stCentury,was chaired byDr Khaqan Najeeb, Director-General, Finance Division. He said that planning and policy making are the initial steps towards sustainable development, as the scope has expanded from conventional growth to sustainable growth and that requires a more refined and re-inventive way of planning. “There has been an observed change from centralized planning towards devolution over the past decade in Pakistan, he maintained.


Dr Aliya H. Khan, the Dean of Social Sciences at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, highlighted that in order to devise a future plan, it is necessary to recall history. For many years, Pakistan has put forth five-year development plans each similar to the previous but today finally five year plans have been linked to long-term plans as well, she said, adding that it is encouraging to note that Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are linked to Vision 2025. She mentioned that after the 18thAmendment, coordination and understanding between federal and provincial units is a key to sustainable growth.


Dr Pradeep Mehta, Consumer Unity and Trust Society-International (CUTS), emphasized the importance of fiscal federalism and how it is central in planning. He said that every institution is formed on a good vision of growth and development but it is the implementation of these visions that shape the outcome.


Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, International Union for Conservation of Nature,whilechairing the session on The Impact of Climate Change on Mangrove Eco-Systems in South Asia said that in the past 7 to 8 years vegetation cover has risen due to community efforts by different organizations for plantations.Cherian Mathews, Oxfams Regional Director Asia urged the need for urgent no regret management strategies that reduce the impact of local stresses to the mangrove ecosystem while maintaining ecological resilience. He called for implementation on the laws protecting mangroves ecosystem. Muhammad Ali Shah from Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum warned against reclaiming of land from sea for housing purposes saying it has been devastating the delta and mangrove ecosystem.


Kashif Majeed Salik, SDPI Research Associate, highlighted the findings of a study by SDPI onSocio-economic Vulnerability of the mangrove ecosystems to climate change in South Asia; A case study of the Indus and Ganges Deltas. He said that mangroves are very important in protecting land from disasters like cyclones, tsunamis and floods. Vulnerability was done on the basis of systems exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity.


Chairing the session onPolicies, Regulations and Environmental Compliance in Textile Industry in South Asia,Dr Tariq Banuri, Professor at the University of Utah, US, said that Sri Lankan model on textile regulations for the environmental regulations should be replicated in Pakistan according to which research institutions and the government can collaborate for better the implementation of the policies.


Dr Rehana Siddique, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, was of the view that new institutional framework is required for the establishment of Environmental regulations and compliance in Textile industry in all South Asian countries.


Waseem Gulzar from SDPI suggested that combination of regulatory and non-regulatory measures will jointly work to reduce occupational hazards in the textile sector of Pakistan. There should be regular checks on chemical industry producing sub-standard chemicals, dyes and paints.


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