ISLAMABAD – The United Nation World Food Programme in its recent report has said that Pakistan has made significant progress over the past decades and brought food security and nutrition to a more prominent place since 2010.
The report “Strategic Review of Food Security and Nutrition in Pakistan ” was launched here in a ceremony, which was attended by the Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific of the United Nations WFP , Secretary Economic Affairs Division, UN Resident Coordinator in Pakistan and other senior officials of the different ministries and divisions. The report said that the agriculture sector produces surplus food to achieve self-sufficiency in the main staples food crops.
Furthermore, the Benazir Income Support Programme now reaches about one third of the impoverished population and resources were just made available to help more than 1.5 million people graduate from poverty and leave hunger behind, it added.
The report lauds such gains as impressive, but cautions that they must not lead to complacency as Pakistan aspires to become an upper middle-income country and top-25 economy by 2025, because sufficient quantities of food at the national level and reduced poverty alone do not equal food security and good nutrition for all. The report outlines that significant progress can be initiated quickly. Existing delivery platforms can be used to promote exclusive breastfeeding and provide supplements and complementary feeding for children and women of childbearing age.
A scale-up of such interventions is cost-effective and would only require small re-allocations of government funds.
Other “quick fixes” include fortifying wheat with important micro nutrients and modifying existing social safety nets to not only reduce poverty, but also improve food security and nutrition. The report also identifies challenges to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) ‘zero hunger’ in Pakistanand makes recommendations on how to overcome them at federal and provincial levels.
Speaking on the occasion, Secretary EAD Arif Ahmad Khan said that the recommendations of the report will be useful for Pakistan in achieving SDG 2 in the time span as the government has set for reducing the food insecure population to 30 percent by 2025 and tackling malnutrition by 2030.
Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific of the UN WFP David Kaatrud said that WFP welcomes this review as a basis for planning an effective programme of food security and nutrition support which WFP can contribute as part of Pakistan ‘s commitment to SDG 2.
He said that Pakistan has made significant progress over the past decades and brought food security and nutrition to a more prominent place since 2010, he remarked.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Pakistan , Neil Buhne said that the review makes it clear that as Pakistan moves forward, the focus has to be on improved food and nutrition security, so as to improve the lives of the most vulnerable citizens and ensure the delivery of Pakistan ‘s 2025 vision. The UN team is committed to support the government in this regard.