Poverty and Food Insecurity Causes Distress in Pakistan

Ramadan is a significant month in the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims try to serve the humanity wholeheartedly as compared to the rest of the year. However, soaring prices of consumables cause food insecurity amidst economic crisis in Pakistan.

Pakistan is facing an increase in food costs, especially for milk, vegetables, fruits and tandoori roti (bread), as a result of wheat flour price hike, and the destruction of farms and cattle by floods. A lower-than-anticipated wheat harvest has prompted the government to opt to import wheat. Yet, owing to the foreign currency crisis, the private sector is not permitted to import the item. Aspects of the agricultural sector’s structure restrict the development potential of food exports and impact the affordability of food for local markets.

Poor agricultural policymaking, a lack of provincial cooperation, and political intervention in the wheat and sugar supply chains are considered the main reasons for shortage of food in the country. The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has identified several structural problems that contribute to recurrent wheat flour crises, such as the absence of a level playing field for all participants in the value chain, the absence of monitoring and enforcing extraction rates, the absence of an adequate mechanism for testing quality, and the absence of labelling and packaging size variation. The CCP is conducting a comprehensive assessment to determine measures that may be used to resolve market inefficiencies in critical products, since food inflation has escalated.

Food costs are one of the primary causes of food insecurity during Ramadan in Pakistan. During the holy month of Ramadan, the demand for food products such as fruits, vegetables, and meat rises, resulting in a price increase owing to supply limitations. This might make it difficult for low-income families to afford food, leading to food insecurity.

Many public and private and non-profitable organizations in Pakistan have taken measures such as giving food subsidies and distributing free meals to address the problem of food insecurity during the month of Ramadan. However, the initiatives seem to be inadequate as many people are facing difficulties in accessing the subsidized flour and other edibles. To the worst, a few people have lost their lives as hundreds of people rushed to flour distribution points of the Government. Such events expose the province’s severe lack of subsidised flour, which has led the retail price of flour to rise. Often, crowds assemble at these locations to purchase flour at discounted prices.

Different political groups as well as the public have criticised the government as well as the concerned administration for lack of proper system for distributing subsidized food items. The audience accused food regulators and grain mills for the artificial increase in flour costs. They demanded that the government and courts take action to alleviate the scarcity and reduce pricing. Political leaders denounced the occurrence and sought the prosecution of those accountable for the mishandling.

In certain regions of the nation, lack of access to food is a contributing issue. Pakistan is a developing nation with a substantial rural population, and many individuals in distant locations may lack access to food markets or transportation. Inadequate infrastructure and storage facilities may also result in food waste and shortages.

Summing up, poverty and unemployment, which afflict a major section of the people in Pakistan, may worsen food insecurity. Many individuals struggle to buy food even during regular times due to the soaring inflation and decreasing purchasing power.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Coverpage’s editorial stance

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