Home > Plaguing Pakistan: Malnourished children, food insecurity major issues

Plaguing Pakistan: Malnourished children, food insecurity major issues

FAO country head says urgent steps needed to counter challenges. PHOTO: ONLINE

FAO country head says urgent steps needed to counter challenges. PHOTO: ONLINE

ISLAMABAD: Drawing attention to one of the neglected areas, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Country Director Patrick T Evans has said that in spite of food surplus, 15% of Pakistan’s population suffers from food insecurity, while 24% children suffer from malnutrition.

In an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune, Evans said that Pakistan is one of the world’s major agriculture countries with highly fertile land. Its agriculture and livestock production could be enhanced through better policies and effective management, he added.

He said that FAO works in Pakistan to reduce household food insecurity and malnutrition in rural and urban areas; enhance productive safety nets and support the Pakistan Integrated Nutrition Strategy and target post-emergency acute food insecurity.

He said that despite the surplus, high food prices or lack of access to quality food remain huge issues for the country.

He said that despite huge potential, there are certain challenges that need to be addressed. Some of these challenges include cultivating vast areas of rangeland, mismanagement of water resources and lack of high quality seed.

Evans said there is need for a strong agriculture minister at the federal level who can propose an effective policy for all provinces. “This would improve coordination between provincial governments and enhance collaborative efforts with international agencies.”

Another food security problem FAO’s head noted is the country’s ever increasing population that would be problematic in the future as far as food security is concerned.

Evans said the FAO has taken numerous steps to improve agriculture productivity and livelihood across the country. “FAO focuses on the involvement of women in the agro-sector for better productivity,” said Evans. “We have launched many projects in different parts of the country in collaboration with provincial governments and with the support of various international development agencies.”

FAO also focuses on the improvement of livestock in rural areas by providing vaccines for sheep, cows, buffaloes, yokes and goats so that rural communities could improve their standards, said Evans. He said that 60% land is rangeland and there is a need to take measures to increase the productivity of livestock.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2015.

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