(July 22, 2019)
President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Monday said Pakistan is facing a serious food security problem despite self-sufficient in staple production.
Pakistan is the eighth largest producer of wheat, the tenth-largest producer of rice, fifth-largest producer of sugarcane, fourth largest producer of milk and it produces a lot of fruits, vegetables, and meat.
Agricultural items are not only exported but wheat is also gifted to international institutions and neighboring countries but tens of millions are facing food insecurity in the country, he said.
Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that Pakistan is the third most water-stressed country while it is included in the top seven countries facing hunger.
The former minister said that a recent SBP report said that 47 percent of households are facing food security problems while a survey in 2018 found 60 percent population facing the same problem.
The SBP report has revealed that almost half of the population in Baluchistan is facing hunger while a report of UK has revealed that 85 percent new-born are underfed.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that the availability of food is not a problem in Pakistan but affordability is an issue for which distorted market mechanism and apathy of authorities can be blamed. Scarcity of food is not only hurting people but also resulting in an annual loss of ten billion dollars to the economy.
He said that a man on the street used to spend half of his income on food during 2018 but now the cost of food has increased substantially, therefore, the government should stop tall claims and do something to shield the poor from price shocks.