Food Crisis – Pakistan

How widespread and severe is the food crisis? Is this a new phenomenon? Why do we choose not to support our nation’s own people?

Food Crisis in Pakistan

In Pakistan you do not have to look far to see the effects of malnutrition amongst the poorest people. The ‘food crisis’ has existed in Pakistan for decades, with the most recent figures stating up to 60% of Pakistanis suffer from food insecurity. But, the crisis has only been exacerbated by inflation over the COVID-19 lockdown period. Food has still not returned to ‘pre-COVID’ prices since.

Effects of Food Shortage

Growing children are some of the most affected, at such a crucial time the correct nutrition and quantity of food is key to their development. Nearly 10 million Pakistani children suffer from stunting [1]. Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, where their height is restricted to be less than 95% that of children their age [2]. Children may suffer early on, and even before birth with malnourished mothers unable to provide for both themselves and the baby, as well as potentially not producing, high in vitamins, breastmilk to feed the baby shortly after birth. The damage caused by a lack of food at such a crucial age can have irreversible effects in later life.

Ecological and Geopolitical Factors

Not all rural communities are able to grow crops and raise livestock due to a multitude of ecological and geopolitical factors. Including control and redirection of water through the use of dams, and man-made channels, as well as poor weather and soil conditions in the region. These communities rely heavily on food being supplied from elsewhere in the country. For them globalisation is to blame for the reduced domestic food supply, that is driving prices up.

Is Pakistan Food Secure?

Ironically, Pakistan is known as a food surplus country, historically providing a good harvest year on year. So it raises the question as to why this food is unavailable to so many. It is all down to the uneven distribution of food throughout the country and the high prices making it inaccessible to many. In 2018 alone Pakistan exported $1.22bn worth of food, importing less than half as much [3]. With the producers and distributors clearly favouring international exportation of food to earn lucrative profits, the county is automatically left with a food deficit. Food being sold like this to ‘the highest bidder’ is highly unethical, as some of these countries waste up to a third of all food.

The onus is on the government to help incentivise local farmers and large corporations to sell at an affordable rate to the struggling local population. Until this happens locals will have to pay high prices for the bare necessities. COVID-19 has certainly worsened circumstances by limiting food supply, causing increased stockpiling by those who can afford to, and allowing businesses to employ opportunistic pricing at a desperate time for many.

Beacon Help-Daily Wager Program

Beacon help’s ‘zero-hunger’ pledge aims to not let a single soul sleep hungry. Beacon identifies and provides financial support to struggling families in these communities, making a real difference in the development of young children, pregnant women, and large families of daily wagers. With your help we can reach more families and help to restore food security once again.

References

[1] Unicef – Pakistan Nutrition – https://www.unicef.org/pakistan/nutrition-0
[2] WHO – Stunting in a Nutshell https://www.who.int/nutrition/healthygrowthproj_stunted_videos/en/
[3] World Integrated Trade Solution – Pakistan 2018 Food Imports & Exports – https://wits.worldbank.org/CountryProfile/en/Country/PAK/Year/2018/TradeFlow/EXPIMP/Partner/all/Product/16-24_FoodProd

Article by -Haider Din-

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