In an article in The News International, Dr. Khaqan Hassan Naqeeb and Dr. Yusuf Zafar write that the production of the highly-valued cotton crop has dipped to a level of a 30-year low and the productivity of the five staple crops has slipped to less than half of the world’s best. Moreover, recent supply shocks have increased food prices by an average of 31 percent in the past 29 months. According to a finding by the National Nutritional Survey 2018 conducted by Pakistan’s Ministry of Health and Unicef, 36.9 percent of the country’s households are food insecure. Children under five years suffering high levels of severe stunting at 40 percent and almost 30 percent of them underweight.
The conditions of Pakistan’s vegetables and fruit markets as well as of grain markets are in dire need of a makeover and the infestation of rodents in grain markets cannot be tolerated as a routine. The plight of the agriculture sector had led to insufficient availability of local production of food items and the impact of rising domestic demand. Pressures will surmount with increasing global food prices, making the laudable objective of food security more distant, wrote the Pakistani daily. Saying that Pakistan cannot afford an unsteady agriculture pulse, Naqeeb and Zafar argue that a radically successful reform effort can lift agricultural productivity, create market efficiency and increase farm incomes.
A reconsidered focus on investment and reform of governance especially in agriculture research and regulatory public-sector bodies is also required with the involvement of all the provinces.