Realigning policies, strategies in line with food needs of country demanded experts. Pakistan is increasing food insecure owing to a host of reasons including rural to urban migration, conversion of farmland into industrial and housing zones and low investment in the agriculture sector stated speakers at a seminar on World Food Day organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
MNA Romina Khursheed Alam Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said that the federal and provincial governments acknowledge that agriculture is the backbone of the economy. Moreover, she said that the trend of rural to urban migration was a matter of concern since, on the one hand, this migration changes the agriculture production with rural population opting for careers in the city over farming and livestock rearing. On the other, this migration increases the burden on meager resources of cities.
“Food security can be ensured by according priority to rural development and modernization of agriculture so that the people can earn their living and get food at their doorstep and they do not need to migrate for fulfilling their living or food needs,” Alam said. National Agriculture Research Council (NARC) Director General Dr. Muhammad Azeem Khan said they were reorienting their policy.
“We have been focusing on achieving self-sufficiency in food and not rural development on policy front. Now by stopping the rural-urban migration and should work on both for achieving food security,” he said.
He added that country had been able to produce several high yielding varieties of rice and wheat despite little research and development (R&D) funding.
“We reallocate and provide additional resources for rural development and innovative agriculture methods and techniques to achieve food security,” Khan stressed.
Mina Dowlatchahi, Food, and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Pakistan said that right policies and strategies can ensure enough food and possible by reviving and firming up the agriculture sector. “Though a lot of work is being done to improve the levels of nutrition and introducing innovation in the agriculture sector, Pakistan’s proposed Food Security Policy is near to finalization phase, needs to discuss some important questions for instance how much Pakistan needs to invest to support small-holding farmers and women farmers about provision of credit and input facilities to grow flood and climate resistant crops,” Dowlatchi said.
She added that rural development should also be focused particularly providing children with nutritious food, better schooling, and clean drinking water.
Syed Nasir Ali Shah, Managing Director Pakistan Oil Seed Development Board (POSDB) said that Pakistan produces enough staple food, still dependent on foreign oilseeds for its cooking oil needs, importing 84% of domestic demand.