ISLAMABAD: The Food and Agricul­ture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has warned that acute food insecurity is likely to worsen in parts of Pakistan due to the negative impact of floods and extremely high prices of basic food items, energy and fuel.

International food and agricultural assistance is urgently needed to avoid deterioration of the local food security situation, according to a Special Alert of Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture report issued by the FAO.

Released on Thursday, the report says about six million people, 30 per cent of the rural population, were estimated to be facing high levels of acute food insecurity between July and November 2022 in 28 vulnerable districts analysed in Baloch­istan, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces as per the food security phase classification analysis carried out prior to floods in the first week of July.

However, acute food insecurity is exp­e­cted to go up considerably as livelihood of a large number of people has been disrupted and vulnerable households have been forced to deplete their productive assets to secure their basic needs. In addition, early information indicates severe losses of food stocks at household and warehouse levels, including wheat and wheat flour, which provides about 35 per cent of the average per capita energy requirements.

The report says access to food has been worsening as soaring inflation has reduced households’ purchasing power, with additional support to prices exerted by market supply disruptions due to blocked roads and damage to infrastructures. Given the extensive damage caused by the floods to road infrastructure, physical access to food in some areas has become very difficult.

Latest official estimates show that the area affected by floods represents about 35 per cent of the total area where cereal, sugarcane and cotton were sown for the 2022 Kharif season. Severe losses to the Kharif crop of cotton and rice have been reported which, together with sugarcane, are important crops and account for a large portion of the country’s export earnings.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2022

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