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Experts suggest integrated approach over Food Security amid pandemic: SDPI Webinar

Ensuring food security is one of the most pressing issues during the time of the global pandemic. A holistic approach at every level needs to be in place to respond to this critical challenge of the day effectively.

The experts in the food security and agriculture sector from the public and private sectors as well as academia, said this while sharing their views with the participants of the webinar ‘Ensuring Food Security in the constrained economic situation of Pakistan’, organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), on Friday. 

Chairman, Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC), Dr. Muhammad Azeem Khan, has emphasized the need for an integrated approach towards ensuring food security in the country.

“Food security is directly linked with the national security”,

Dr. Muhammad Azeem Khan said.

He said that we need to improve the quality of our agricultural products as well as climate change resistance to boost our trade in this sector.

“Scientific research and use of technology as joint Public-private ventures are imperative to respond to new challenges.”

Dr. Khan said.

He also emphasized the need for contextual production and improving the seed system to counter the rust attack and pests.

Dr. Hamid Jalil, Member Food Security, Climate Change and Nutrition, Planning Commission, highlighted the fact that food security requires a long-time plan, and thus, the ministry we have made a National Food Security Agenda which outlines the long-term policies of food security.

He added further that a team of experts is being sought to regulate all the existing bodies.

“Besides, bringing reforms to make our production more sustainable, revamping agriculture research, cotton revival program, disease eradication, and facilitating smallholder agriculture sector are some of the focused areas.”

he concluded.

Dr. Abid Qaiyum Sulehri, Executive Director, SDPI, while covering different aspects of the topic, said that food security in these times of economic constraint is one of the major threats to humanity. Since March 2020 when the Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic, food shortage in Pakistan has exacerbated by it.

Primitive methods of agriculture, guesstimates-based data, administrative failures that resulted in hoarding, and climate change which has been affecting our crops and their products are some of the major contributing factors here.

“A food security dashboard has been established at the PM office with data and statistics of each district available on to accurately guess the trends in supply and demands at first hand.”

Dr. Sulehri informed the panelists.

He added that the Chinses government has appointed an agricultural commissioner in Pakistan under the banner of the second phase of CPEC, which is a heartening development.

Food System Expert Dr. Zafar Mehmood, was of the view that we must control a large amount of wastage in our eating habits and through a behavioral change

“Moreover, we need to work on the nutritional value of the foods and curb the trend adulteration in the country”

Public Health Specialist and Nutritionist Dr. Nomina Anees, on the occasion, opined that we need to work on a piecemeal approach that needs to be community-based, especially by including women.

Mr. Qasim Ali Shah, Deputy Executive Director, SDPI, said the economic access to food is one of the major issues which has always been overlooked. He was of the view that joblessness due to the pandemic has further exacerbated this issue and it is unfortunate that 68% of our population is unable to access balanced food in Pakistan. 

Ms. Aaliya Habib; Project Manager, SUNCSA, apprised the panelists about the SUN endeavors in ensuring healthy and nutritious food. She said that a multi-sectoral approach and a joint public-private venture can ensure food security in the country.

Earlier, Mr. Shahid Minhas from SDPI highlighted the importance of ensuring food security and a balanced nutritious diet.

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