Comprehensive strategy needed to avert food insecurity.

ISLAMABAD -- With growing threats of climate change and its population hovering around 230 million, Pakistan is under recognizable pressure of food insecurity as well as employment generation for the survival of its people.

Amidst changing world dynamics in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war, Pakistan's agricultural production has also gained more importance to maintain food security and address issues like hunger and malnutrition to develop a healthy and prosperous society and achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger.

Although the country has a bumper wheat crop this year, its agriculture sector still faced challenges like changing weather patterns, depleting groundwater table, increasing urbanization and lack of value chain infrastructure.

According to a World Bank (WB) study, the majority of Pakistan's population in rural areas reside below the poverty line which necessitates raising agricultural productivity to generate more income opportunities for them to improve the rural economy.

Torrential rains and floods like last year are also a challenge for the policymakers to avert the effects of such future catastrophes for securing crops and livestock of people associated with agricultural sector.

Keeping in view all these issues, the government is working on a multi-pronged strategy by ensuring supply of certified seeds of major crops like wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane and maize.

'The government has launched a track and trace seed policy to provide certified seeds of cash crops like wheat, cotton and rice to farmers,' said Imtiaz Ali Gopang, Food Security Commissioner, Ministry of National Food Security and Research.

He informed that under this initiative, during 2022-23, paddy seed availability was 67,289 metric tons, about 148% of the total seed required for the Kharif 2023-24 crop. Moreover, certified seeds availability for maize crops during 2022-23 was around 28,029.31 metric tons (85%) of the total requirement, he added.

Gopang said for sowing maize in 2023-24, its seed availability was 24,667 metric tons including 7,154.55 metric tons local and 17,521 metric tons of imported seed which was around 75% of the total requirement. 'The government was also ensuring the provision of seeds for pulses and oil seeds to enhance their per-acre output.'

'Efforts are also being made to facilitate local growers in adopting innovative cultivation techniques like conserving cultivable land, water, soil and energy for producing...

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