The condition of food security is still inadequate in 54 districts of Pakistan, with 48.6% of the total population deprived of sufficient food, said experts who had come to launch the “Right to Food Assessment” — a 10-year review (2004-2014) earlier this week.
The research conducted by ActionAid Pakistan in collaboration with Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi and Sustainable Agriculture Group demonstrated key policy demands that need to be met in order to achieve targets to meet the millennium development goals.
According to the findings, Pakistan, being the second largest nation in South Asia, has almost one-half of its population encountering hunger and dealing with food insecurity. Some statistics reveal that 23.3% of the population in 2004 was unable to meet the minimum level of food intake, which gradually declined to 17.2% in 2012.
Maplecroft, a UK-based global risks advisory firm, had also ranked Pakistan at 11th out of 148 nations as ‘extreme risk’ on their Food Risk Security Index.
Although, Pakistan saw improvement in some areas such as meeting 2,450 calories per capita in 2013-14 as against caloric requirement of 2,350, reduction in malnourished from 183 to 131 in 2013. The Global Hunger Index (GHI) also reduced from 21.2 in 2005 to 19.3 in 2013 and the prevalence of underweight children below 5 years of age decreased from 38% in 2004-05 to 31.5% in 2010-11.
The report suggests that food production remained stable in recent years but people’s access to food remained weak due to the decline in their purchasing power. Inequality was increasing over time not only in terms of income but in terms of land holding as well, it added.
Dr Abdul Saboor, Professor of Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi, while revealing facts said that the extent of multidimensional poverty stood at 46.67 in 2013-14 with comparison of 37.95 per cent in 2003-04. On an average, around 22.3 per cent of the population remained below national poverty line over the period 2002-12.
He added that during the last decade Pakistan spent more than one trillion rupees to eradicate poverty through launching several social security programmes at the provincial, regional and national levels.
ActionAid Pakistan Director Daud Saqlain said right based approach should be followed in ensuring food security across generations particularly the right of vulnerable groups including children, women, IDPs and the handicapped.
“The government must improve agriculture financing and targeted interventions including input subsidies for small scale farmers,” he said.
Nasir Aziz, Policy officer Food Security, ActionAid Pakistan highlighted the importance of climate resilient sustainable agriculture and emphasised that promoting climate resilient sustainable agriculture is key to ensuring food security, especially for women and children.