Pakistan flooded with food insecurity & hunger pain | BY Samra Athar Kakakhel

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Pakistan flooded with food insecurity & hunger pain

THE implications of severe flooding on Pakistan’s food security are becoming completely obvious and Pakistan is passing through severe hunger pain.

Massive areas of farmland have indeed been flooded, agriculture and food resources have been wiped away and houses and lives have been damaged, triggering massive damage, displacing millions and causing a hunger crisis.

Food prices have risen throughout the country as acres of agricultural land have been destroyed by the flood.

As stated by the authorities, a food security crisis is on the cards. Rain and deadly floods have destroyed rice and wheat crops as well as vegetable including tomatoes and onions.

They also threaten wheat planting in the coming months at a time when the world cannot sustain another disruption in grain supply.

Food insecurity is now widespread across Pakistan, though millions of Pakistanis struggled to somehow get food even before the floods.

The UN reported in 2008 that 77 million Pakistanis were hungry and 45 million were malnourished.

And, while many developing countries have started recovering from the 2007-08 global hunger crisis, Pakistan’s food circumstances have remained poor.

Throughout 2010, Pakistan’s main two basic foods – rice, and wheat – were 30 to 50pc more costly than before the global food crisis.

Rain, extreme water shortages and insurgency have increased food insecurity in Pakistan in recent months.

Floods have wiped out and damaged more than 100 bridges and nearly 2000 kilometers of road, killed an estimated 800,000 agricultural animals and destroyed two million acres of crops and plantations.

Imports from many countries are having difficulty reaching Pakistan’s largest population.

Pakistan already has one of the region’s highest price inflation, with consumer price rises reaching a 14-year high of nearly 25% in July.

Another challenge will be sowing the wheat crop for the coming year, which starts in October. Prior to the floods, Pakistan was in discussions with Russia about importing wheat.

The current regime is facing a wheat shortage of approximately 2.6 million tonnes. International aid is however working its way through.

The World Food Program-WFP is indeed trying to increase food assistance to Pakistan, with the objective of reaching around 500,000 people in the most affected provinces.

Unfortunately, distributions are hindered since floodwaters block access across the country. Declare hunger as a national security concern.

Since some of Pakistan’s most food-insecure regions are really extremist areas, hunger should be connected to defence and public funding for food distribution projects should be expanded.

Invest in agriculture so that Pakistan’s agricultural economy is not centred solely on wheat and rice.

Pakistan should spend more and more on crops that require less water and are more nutritious.

We should consider schools the central focus of food aid and distribution.

Using schools as a distribution hub for food provides powerful encouragement to parents to bring their kids to school.

Start taking care of the organizational characteristics. Strengthening agricultural institutions, facilities and storage facilities as well as injecting funds into a stagnant farming sector, are all essential for making Pakistan more food secure.

Food insecurity will continue unless Pakistan does not solve poverty, and deprivation, and established political interests in agriculture.

—The writer is social political analyst.

 

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