Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



Persistent Food Insecurity from Policy Failures in Pakistan

Food security means, “All the people, all the time, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preference for an active and healthy life” [FAO (1996)]. Three types of food insecurity generally exist in any country, which are: transitory food insecurity that is short time food insecurity occurs due to sporadic crises; chronic food insecurity that arises as a result of long term but not easily changed conditions; cyclic food insecurity that arises due to seasonal fluctuations. If cyclic food insecurity existed in any country for at least six months than it was called as chronic cyclic food insecurity and if it persisted less than six months than called as transitory cyclic food insecurity. Pakistan has made a lot of progress since independence in the field of agriculture in terms of production, yields, and growth in area under cultivation. Indus agriculture has experienced a Green Revolution and is striving for yellow and blue revolutions. However, it could have done far better. Though the overall growth of the Pakistan’s economy has largely been dependent upon the performance of agriculture, over the years, not much investment has been made for the development of this sector. Agriculture performance still depends upon, quite a lot, upon the weather conditions every year. The yields of most of crops are far below the levels achieved at the progressive farms (extension gap). From the Figure 1 it is evident that in the last decade (90s) food availability was increasing and then went down and formed the inverted u-shape. After that again fluctuating means there is no surety about food security. It is also comparable with agriculture growth rate. According to latest statistics in Pakistan as many as 50 million people are engaged in agriculture operations and produce only 25 million tons of food grains. As against this in India, 546 million people are engaged in agricultural operations and produce 176 million tons of food grains, in USA only 6 million people engaged in agriculture, produce 347 million of food grains.

Zakir Hussain, Waqar Akram