Pakistan needs to control population growth to ensure food security

-Pakistan needs to control population growth to ensure food security
Pakistan needs to modernise the agriculture sector and control population growth in order to ensure food security, says an economic expert.
“Pakistan being the fifth largest state in the world in terms of population, and a predominantly agri-based society, faces serious concerns about food insecurity for various reasons. With a population of over 220 million, feeding the people has become a major challenge for the government,” said Dr Abid Qayyum Sulehri, Executive Director Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), while talking to WealthPK.
“The rapidly increasing population puts pressure on limited resources and creates a demand for food that exceeds the supply. This results in food insecurity, which is a major concern for the people of Pakistan,” he said.
“The food security of a country depends on the availability and utilisation of food. The uncontrolled population growth in Pakistan is affecting all three aspects of food security,” Dr Sulehri said.
He said the increasing population means that more land is needed for housing and agriculture, which results in the loss of fertile land and reduces the area available for food production. This leads to a decrease in food production and a shortage of food in the market.
“The high demand for food also drives up the prices, making it difficult for the poor and vulnerable populations to access food,” he pointed out.
Moreover, he said, the lack of proper infrastructure and resources for agriculture, such as water and fertiliser, also contributes to food insecurity in Pakistan.
“The farmers do not have access to the necessary resources to produce food in sufficient quantities to meet the demands of the growing population,” he mentioned.
According to the World Bank’s climate explainer series, 345 million people may have suffered acute food insecurity in 2022 as a result of supply chain disruptions. The situation in Pakistan is quite alarming, as the prevalence of undernourishment in the total population has reached 17%. The prevalence of food insecurity has reached 8.7% from 1% in 2014. In the last eight years, 17 million people have become food insecure.
“National security cannot be guaranteed unless there is food security in Pakistan. Urgent attention needs to be given towards reforming and modernising the agriculture sector as well as controlling population growth,” Dr Sulehri added.
The SDPI executive director said the government should implement policies aimed at reducing population growth. This can be done through family planning programs and educating the general population on reproductive health.
He said the government should invest in the agricultural sector to increase food production. “This may include providing support for the development of new technologies, providing access to credit and other resources, and investing in infrastructure to improve the transportation of goods. By investing in the agricultural sector, the government can help increase the overall food supply and improve food security,” he said.
Moreover, he said, the government can promote sustainable agriculture practices to increase food production while protecting the environment. This can include implementing practices such as crop rotation, intercropping, and the use of organic fertilisers. These practices not only increase food production, but also help to conserve resources.