Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



Food Security in Pakistan: Can It Be Achieved?

Wide fluctuations in world prices of food-grains, especially rice and wheat, in the seventies and the early eighties forced many developing countries to strive for self-sufficiency in food-grain production. Pakistan is among the countries where near self-sufficiency was achieved in wheat in the early eighties. It also maintained its status as a leading rice-exporting country. However, a continuously high rate of population growth, a changing pattern of income distribution, and a greater level of urbanisation have greatly influenced the demand for food-grains. At the same time, additional factors like a sharp rise in the cost of irrigation, a dramatic decline in the world price of rice, a heavy debt burden, the lack of technology and human capital development, and mismanagement in the distribution system have contributed towards a slower growth of grain production as compared with the levels achieved in the sixties and the eighties. This change in the demand and supply situation with respect to food has necessitated the need to re-evaluate the existing agricultural policies. Within demand and supply constraints, the question is whether or not Pakistan can attain selfsufficiency in wheat while at the same time maintaining its status as a significant exporter of rice. In the immediate future, the situation appears desperate, but in the long-run, when available resources are adequately utilised and consistent policies are adopted, there is hope and optimism. This study not only reviews the current food situation in Pakistan but also develops alternative policy scenarios which are consistent with the target of food security in Pakistan.

Rehana Siddiqui, Ather Maqsood Ahmed