Persistent Food Insecurity from Policy Failures in Pakistan

Zakir Hussain, Waqar Akram


Food security means, “All the people, all the time, have
physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to
meet their dietary needs and food preference for an active and healthy
life” [FAO (1996)]. Three types of food insecurity generally exist in
any country, which are: transitory food insecurity that is short time
food insecurity occurs due to sporadic crises; chronic food insecurity
that arises as a result of long term but not easily changed conditions;
cyclic food insecurity that arises due to seasonal fluctuations. If
cyclic food insecurity existed in any country for at least six months
than it was called as chronic cyclic food insecurity and if it persisted
less than six months than called as transitory cyclic food insecurity.
Pakistan has made a lot of progress since independence in the field of
agriculture in terms of production, yields, and growth in area under
cultivation. Indus agriculture has experienced a Green Revolution and is
striving for yellow and blue revolutions. However, it could have done
far better. Though the overall growth of the Pakistan’s economy has
largely been dependent upon the performance of agriculture, over the
years, not much investment has been made for the development of this
sector. Agriculture performance still depends upon, quite a lot, upon
the weather conditions every year. The yields of most of crops are far
below the levels achieved at the progressive farms (extension gap). From
the Figure 1 it is evident that in the last decade (90s) food
availability was increasing and then went down and formed the inverted
u-shape. After that again fluctuating means there is no surety about
food security. It is also comparable with agriculture growth rate.
According to latest statistics in Pakistan as many as 50 million people
are engaged in agriculture operations and produce only 25 million tons
of food grains. As against this in India, 546 million people are engaged
in agricultural operations and produce 176 million tons of food grains,
in USA only 6 million people engaged in agriculture, produce 347 million
of food grains.

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