SBP report on food insecurity

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IN its third quarterly report on the state of the economy, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has noted provincial disparities in terms of food security in Pakistan. The data regarding Balochistan is really shocking and should raise alarm bells in the relevant quarters as almost half of Balochistan’s households, according to the report, are faced with mild to severe food insecurity.
Despite being rich in natural resources and strategically located, it has been long time that Balochistan is suffering from food insecurity problem. The recent drought like situation in the province had reportedly affected over half a million people and it had a severe impact on the agriculture and livestock sectors. In fact it was reported in December last year that around 109,000 families have reportedly been hit by a drought-like situation in 20 districts of the province. How can we address the sense of deprivation of the Baloch people when such an important province which is the mouthpiece of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Project is faced with such a situation? Heavy responsibility rests with the federal government to come forward and address the current situation by announcing a comprehensive aid package for these drought-hit people. Then there is need to address the issue of food insecurity of the province on a long-term basis. The problem in Balochistan is that Agriculture is heavily dependent on rain, but there has been less rain in the last few years. Due to lack of dams, rainwater is also completely wasted. We, therefore, will urge the federal government to allocate sufficient funds for the construction of small and medium dams in Balochistan. The long-term water management program in Balochistan will meet a long felt need of the province for adequate quantity of water for agriculture, especially the expanding acreage of fruit orchards. Then new strategies need to be evolved to financially support and train the poor farmers of the province. There is need to bring about a shift from traditional to a technology-based farming system to increase farm productivity. Balochistan is famous for the fruit production and a strong agriculture research system is also needed to efficiently and fully tap fruit export potential of the country’s fruit basket.