Increased volatility in global food prices has left millions of Pakistanis unable to achieve the basic levels of food security, admitted Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in a public message observing World Food Day on October 16.
“The food insecurity caused by high food prices is an issue that, unfortunately, is faced by millions in Pakistan,” he said, adding that the World Food Day theme for 2011 – Food Prices - From Crisis To Stability – highlighted “the growing trends of high food prices and its impact on the most vulnerable.”
More than 60 percent of Pakistanis are currently experiencing food insecurity, according to the National Emergency Co-ordinator, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and the United Nations, as cited by Business Recorder.
In his address, the Pakistani Prime Minister acknowledged that his government faced a major challenge to restore food security to its 180 million population, but vowed to step up measures that would increase the accessibility of food to his people.
One of the major issues that Pakistan has faced over the last two years in particular have been recurring floods that have devastated crops and land suitable for farming.
According to Business Recorder, farmers in some parts of southern Punjab and Sindh also did not go for sowing this Kharif season as they were afraid of the expected floods, which would make them unable to pay bank loans.
“The global phenomena of climate change, high costs of energy, environmental degradation and increased frequency of weather shocks are the major challenges that Pakistan faces along with the global world,” said Gilani.
“Increased linkage between energy and agriculture is yet another major factor for food price rise,” he added.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has also chimed in by promising that the government was according high priority to agriculture to ensure food security and creating new job and income opportunities for rural population
However, while World Food Day has been celebrated in Pakistan for the last 4 decades, the country has yet to have been able to ensure the availability of food to its poor segment of society.