Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



Report of the Task Force on Food Security (Book Reviews)

The Report on Food Security was prepared by the Task Force set up in the Planning Commission by the Prime Minister of Pakistan in May 2008 to: (i) review the production, availability, storage, and consumption of essential food commodities in Pakistan; (ii) examine the food procurement system and status of storage facilities; (iii) analyse price trends of essential food commodities; (iv) assess the impact of (food) price hike (observed in 2007-08) on vulnerable groups; and (v) devise an action plan for promoting food security for the vulnerable groups. It produced two Interim Reports in July 2008 and September 2008 before the submission of the Final Report in February 2009.

The setting up of the Task Force by the newly elected government soon after it had taken over was timely in that it preceded the start of the ‘Rabi sowing season for the next (winter 2008-09) wheat crop, the staple food in Pakistan. It must also be seen in the context of the unprecedented increase in global food prices in 2007-08 and rising threat of hunger and food insecurity, especially in developing countries. The need for evolving a comprehensive national strategy for food security was therefore pressing and

The main elements of the national strategy for food security identified by the Task Force are: (i) achieving a growth rate of at least 4 percent during the next decade (2010 2020) for agricultural sector with special focus on livestock sub-sector; (ii) setting up an efficient food procurement and distribution system for ensuring around the year food security in all regions of the country; (iii) adopting a pro-poor growth strategy to enhance access of poor households to food; (iv) establishing transparent and efficient safety nets for the vulnerable groups. An important contribution of the Report was the construction of a food security index (FSI) incorporating (with suitable weights) major aspects of food security. It also recommended the adoption and frequent updating of the proposed FSI to monitor food security situation in the count

The Task Force argues that deteriorating terms of trade (TOT) during 2000 to 2008 had depressed agricultural growth and resulted in increased imports of food items. The Task Force supports a high procurement price for wheat (Rs 900 per 40 Kg). It also recommended that a Terms of Trade Index (TOTI) be computed and this be submitted to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet twice a year for timely actions by the government to guard against unintended deteriorations in agricultural TOT. The Task Force emphasised enhanced access to institutional agricultural credit at reduced interest rates with greater emphasis on small farmers in the districts lacking farms credit. To provide research and development (R&D) support to policy makers, it recommended the establishment of an independent Agricultural Policy Institute at the federal level. The strengthening of the Food Wing of MINFAL and institutions of Provincial Agricultural Research System through enhanced incentives and an early enactment of the

The Task Force was headed by Mr Sartaj Aziz and included Dr Hafiz A. Pasha, Dr Zafar Altaf, Dr M. E. Tusneem, Mr Abid Hassan, Mr Shahid Hafeez Kardar, Mr Ashfaq Ahmad, Mr Afaq Ahmad Tiwana, Mr Asad Umer, Mr Qamar-uz-Zaman Shah, Mr Khair Muhammad Junejo, Mr Farhat-ullah Khan, and Dr Kauser Abdulla Malik as members. It also included as members the federal Secretaries of Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock; Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Industries and Production; Ministry of Interior; and Provincial Additional Secretaries (Dev.) of Balochistan, KPK (formerly NWFP) and Sindh.

Muhammad Iqbal