Minister of National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam on Tuesday said that Pakistan had reduced food and nutritional insecurity by 6pc and was engaged in further reduction through agricultural and livestock development along with livelihood improvement and economic uplift of the masses.
Addressing the eighth Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ministerial Conference on Food Security and Agricultural Development, Imam said that Pakistan has taken the issue of food insecurity as a top priority and declared food security as a national security issue by putting food security on the top agenda in its national security plan. The food and nutritional insecurity in the country were recorded at 24 percent during 2014-15, which reduced to 18.3 percent in 2019-20 and it was attributed to the measures taken by the government to strengthen all four pillars of food security, added.
Imam said that the government was striving hard to address food security issues through various initiatives and in this regard prime minister’s Agriculture Emergency Program worth Rs285 billion had been initiated which primarily focused on productivity enhancement of wheat, rice and sugarcane with a cost of approximately Rs34 billion.
Besides, an amount of Rs10 billion was earmarked for the oilseeds enhancement program, conserving water through the lining of watercourses with a cost of Rs180 billion, enhancing command area of small and mini dams in Barani areas with spending of Rs28 billion, he added. For water conservation in Barani areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the government had also allocated Rs13 billion to conserve water, he said adding that Rs0.5 billion was also set aside in order to exploit the potential of shrimp farming, besides allocation of Rs0.7 billion for cage fish culture development.
Under the program, other initiatives like trout farming in Northern Areas of Pakistan was also started with a cost of more than Rs2 billion and initiating save and fattening of calf program with Rs05 billion, he said adding that backyard poultry program was started to enhance the income of rural families.
Fakhar said that to resolve the issue of food security, numerous initiatives have been taken to increase household income which includes mechanized harvesting of wheat, rice, maize and fruits, silos for grain storage, and development of cold storage facility for horticultural commodities.
He further informed that the government had also provided incentives for value-added products through the provision of harvesting machinery for rice, cob and fruits on 50pc subsidy, exemption of 28pc import duty and 17pc GST on the locally manufactured silo and replenish of State Bank of Pakistan’s financing facility for storage of agricultural produce and development of small scale/cottage industry under Ihsas and Kamyab Jawan Program.
Furthermore, the government has fast-tracked access to credit, finance through registration of farmers and FVOs and women through biometric mapping and Issuance of Kissan Cards for subsidy and credit.
In addition, the import of more than three million tons of wheat and 0.3 million tons of sugar in years 2020-21 are the preventive steps taken to ensure the food security of the country.