ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is facing formidable challenges to improving food security because of poor governance, lack of economic growth and instability within the country as well as on its borders, Asian Development Bank has said in a report.
The country has to overcome the challenges to achieve durable societal development outcomes, which are fundamental to stable economic growth and future food security, says the report titled “Food Insecurity in Asia: Why Institutions Matter”.
A country study on Pakistan incorporated in the publication, says: “Today, overall, Pakistan is in a comfortable situation in terms of food supply and availability, particularly for rice. It has self-sufficiency ratios (SSRs) for most food items of over 100 per cent. Yet, the country’s food security level is still low. This shows that a country’s ability to produce food is not a critical reason for a country’s food security or insecurity.
In the foreseeable future, Pakistan is most likely to continue to be subject to socio-political, economic and environmental volatility. Deep reforms and improvements in governance must be carried out soon to unleash the country’s growth potential.
Without substantial improvements in governance and a reduction in corruption, decent economic growth is hard to anticipate, and hunger and malnutrition will continue to prevail because of the mal-distribution of resources and the lack of purchasing power among the poor, the report points out.
The lack of purchasing power and access rights to an adequate food supply by many of its poor people is the key reason for the country’s low level of food security. To improve its level of food security, achieving stable economic growth and equitable income distribution should be Pakistan’s foremost priority; central to this is the need to improve governance and eliminate corruption.
The report says that investment in agricultural infrastructure and research and development also needs to be carried out urgently to improve productivity in agriculture and to better cope with natural disasters. Efforts are needed to reduce and avoid environmental pollution and use resources sustainably. Population control should also be on the agenda of the government and society.
Environmental pollution and degradation present additional challenges for Pakistan to improve its food security.
Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2017