Agriculture and Food Security in Pakistan

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THEMATIC PAPER

AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY IN PAKISTAN

By: MAZHAR ARIF

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Hunger is exclusion – exclusion from the land, from income, jobs, wages, life and citizenship. When a person gets to the point of not having anything to eat, it is because all the rest has been denied. This is a modern form of exile. It is death in life… Josue de Castro

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C O N T E N T S

1 - Introduction 1.1 What is food security? 1.2 Official definition 1.3 Why food insecurity? 1.4 Right to food 1.5 Components of food security 2 - Agriculture and Food Security 2.1 Agriculture in Pakistan 2.2 Rural people remain poor 2.3 Who are the Rural Poor? 2.4 Agricultural growth is not enough 3– Food Poverty 4 - Food insecurity in rural Pakistan 5 – Strategic options 6 – Supporting requirements 7 - References

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1 - Introduction Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has approved the export of an additional 500,000 tons of wheat this year in the hope of making inroads into the lucrative Indian market. The export will be undertaken by the private sector by sea and by railways. A bumper harvest of 23 million tons is expected this 2006-07 crop year. Last year, the country also had a bumper crop of 21.7 million tons of wheat. (1) The surplus harvest of wheat, however, does not guarantee food security in the country. One citizen of Pakistan, Mr. Maqbool, comments that first we will export, and then we will import ‘Pakistani wheat’ at much higher rates during the time of crises from these neighbouring countries. Another informed citizen, Salman Ali, says there have been serious irregularities in the past in wheat export and then import. The traders mafia (that includes ministers, influential parliamentarians and the private traders plus few industrialists) in our country is very strong and the common consumer suffers the net impact of such malpractices. Government takes decisions in the name of consumers but in actual effect, these are the traders who benefit from exports/ imports and not the consumers. The profiteering tendency of the global food producers and distributors even at the cost of people’s survival is bound to create social and political upheavals. This is a harsh reality which the business people and policy makers have chosen to ignore so far. (2) Food insecurity amidst plenty is the name of the game in food politics. Despite the fact that global economy is a food surplus economy, 852 million people (17 % of the world population) go hungry every day in the world because they do not have access to food. The chronic hunger kills more people every day than disasters, disease or war. But, all this is when there is enough food to feed the entire population of the world twice. Women in rural areas go hungry the most despite doing the bulk of the work to grow food and feed their families. Women produce up to 80 per cent of the food in developing countries, but they own only one per cent of the land. (3) The continuation of hunger is directly related to a lack of access or entitlement to food, and to the natural resources essential to the provision of food. Food sovereignty is the right of people to define their own food and agriculture, and to protect and regulate domestic agricultural production and trade. Access and entitlement to food are affected by North-South global divide, particular national policies, gender, class, ethnicity, and rural-urban divide. 1.1 What is food security? Food security as a concept originated only in the mid-1970s, in the discussions of international food problems at a time of global food crisis. The initial focus of attention was primarily on food supply problems - of assuring the availability and to some degree the price stability of basic foodstuffs at the international and national level. That supplyside, international and institutional set of concerns reflected the changing organization of

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the global food economy that had precipitated the crisis. A process...
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