ICCI calls for measures to ensure food security

  • February 20, 2010
Pakistan has become quite vulnerable to acute water shortage problem due to long dry spell and less rains creating new threats to agricultural productivity and government should take urgent remedial measures to ensure food security of the country.

This was said by Zahid Maqbool, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry while presiding over a meeting of ICCI Sub-Committee on Food and Agriculture. 

He said government should improve the storage capacity of crops in the country because this is currently a big issue. Moreover, government should procure wheat on time from farmers because farmers don’t have wheat holding capacity and any delay in procurement process could cause price crash of wheat throwing farmers in deep troubles and engendering future food security prospects of the country.

He said according to a conservative estimate, Pakistan’s population would increase to 250 million by 2050 with an annual population growth of 1.6 per cent a year. It would obviously increase demand for food items and government should adopt a proactive approach to meet the rising food needs of country’s burgeoning population.

The committee members said that government should address on priority all issues related to agriculture productivity including high cost of inputs and outputs, storage facilities, supply side of foods items, management of water for different crops and marketing of agro-products etc. to ensure food security of the country.

They said that due to persistently long drought and water shortage, almost 36 million acres of fertile land has reportedly turned barren and if this trend continued more of Pakistan’s farmland will become unproductive aggravating domestic food security situation.

Zahid Maqbool said that despite an agrarian country, Pakistan has to import wheat, sugar, edible oil and other value added food items creating a trade deficit for FYs 06,07,08,09 (first 11 months) of $813 million, $725 million, $1.4 billion and $877 million respectively. He said during the first eleven months of last fiscal year, Pakistan spend $3.662 billion on food imports, which is not good for an agricultural country.

He said government should construct more dams for water storage and improve irrigation system, ensure consistent energy supply and all key inputs to farmers at affordable prices and facilitate them in getting access to markets. He said government can enhance food security by making crops growing a profitable venture for farmers.