Protecting food, saving generations

Food is essential to life, hence food safety is a basic human right. Amid growing food insecurity and shrinking space for growing essential crops due to the mushroom growth of private housing societies and commercial use of the land, the approval of the first-ever food protection policy by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is a welcome step. Under the policy, agricultural land would be protected from being converted into housing societies or other commercial purposes, while the policy would be linked with major water reservoirs. A subsidy of Rs300 million on fertilizers is also a part of the policy. Food security involves ensuring both an adequate supply of food and access of the population to that supply, mostly through a chain of well-planned strategies and mechanisms. The food chain starts from the field to dining table while challenges include availability of fertile land, low-cost fertilizers, quality seeds, use of modern techniques during cultivation, access to local markets and last but not the least, the well-being of farmers.

Pakistan is an agriculture state but its urban population is increasing due to large scale migration of villagers to cities. The agriculture industry is losing its charm due to challenges faced by farmers. So, food security remains a major concern in a developing country like Pakistan. The federal and provincial governments need to address these issues as they have to employ various policies to address food security concerns of the citizens. This underlines the significance of investing in the agricultural sector to boost food production.

Policies at micro and macro level need to be evolved. Both micro and macro factors include adoption of new technologies, availability of quality seeds and low cost fertilizers and continuous research in the food industry. The policies associate with food security and usually involve structural changes in relative prices, the general economic environment, and other measures such as targeted food subsidies, improving technologies, and institutions available to farmers and consumers. The government needs to make investment in the agriculture sector and provide conducive environment for growing foods. Stern action also needs to be taken against the use of agriculture land by land mafias who set up unplanned housing societies.