Save agriculture land for the food of next generations
November 21st, 2017 | No Comments
Food insecurity, malnutrition and access to food are widely spread in 47% Pakistani population. The production of food depends mainly on irrigation and fertile land. According to the World Food Program, more than half Pakistani population consumes less than the recommended caloric intake of 2100 kcal per person per day. Despite a good wheat harvest in 2014 and significant improvements over recent decades in the food supply, the average per capita daily availability has remained at about 2400 kcal since 1990. The drastic change in climate is also expected to impact food production and food security. The crop yields in Pakistan may also show decline in the yields of staple crops due to changed length of the growing seasons. With population growth, more food must be produced in the future to maintain the current level of food security in Pakistan.
There are grave concerns over the effect of unplanned and unregulated housing societies on fertile lands and consequent food production. The most devastating factor is how poor farmers are being cheated into selling their fertile lands to housing society owners. The rich owners know the government development plans and the developers start acquiring potentially high-value lands accordingly. The owners offer marginally high price of the land and the poor landowners are usually clueless of the larger picture and sell off the land for near-future benefits. Same land will be appraised at much higher price, following the development of the Government or other investors.
The price of houses has increased exponentially over past 6 to 12 years and changed the dynamics of the middle class population of Pakistan, which is not able to afford a house anymore. The middle class society of Pakistan is merging with the lower class and floating over the poverty line. The issue is not only that the land is becoming unaffordable, though the fertile land is becoming insufficient with every passing year.
The insufficient fertile land leads directly to the food crisis for next generations. The growing populations of Pakistan and urbanization, the landowners who often give their fertile lands to poor farmers to grow crops realize that developing housing societies will make them richer.
Pakistan is an agriculture country and we cannot afford to lose agricultural land. The fertile lands in the villages suburban to big cities like Faisalabad, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sahiwal, Multan, Bahawalpur, Mardan, Peshawar and other cities of Pakistan has been purchased by the housing societies at cheaper prices. The same land will lead the wave of urbanization as the land becomes limited or too expensive in main city areas. Little by little, our economy will be plunged into this vicious cycle of food crises, which will inadvertently lead to more crimes. This is high time for our government to devise and implement strict laws ensuring preservation of agriculture land. Government should use the agrarians and geologists before approving the housing societies. The housing society owner’s should have to choose the barren lands for the societies. If possible, government should have to bind the companies of housing societies to hire at least one agrarian and geologist to increase the job opportunity and to save the fertile land.
The author is the Lecturer of Bioinformatics, from Department of Biosciences COMSATS Institute of Information Technology Sahiwal Pakistan and TWAS-PhD (Scholar) State Key Laboratory of Membrane Biology; Chinese Academy of Sciences; Beijing, China.
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