Pakistan has a problem. In an international ranking of the Global Hunger Index (GHI) this year, the country ranked 92 out of 116 nations, with its hunger categorised as ‘serious.’ Pakistan currently faces a scenario in which it is largely food sufficient but not food secure.
Despite Pakistan being ranked at 8th in producing wheat, 10th in rice, 5th in sugarcane, and 4th in milk production, a 2019 report of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) showed that nearly 37% of households in Pakistan are food insecure. In the three years since the SBP’s report, matters have only worsened. Food price inflation in Pakistan has been in double digits since August 2019. The cost of food has been 10.4-19.5% higher than the previous year in urban areas and 12.6-23.8% in rural areas, according to figures published by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.
So how does a country with one of the largest agrarian economies in the world find itself unable to sufficiently provide food for nearly 40% of its population? For decades, agriculture has been neglected and people’s earnings have been hit by one economic crisis after another. On top of this, particularly in the past decade or so, climate change related disasters and changes in the environment have resulted in our already neglected agriculture becoming less competitive.