Sustenance in the midst of lockdown.

Byline: Afshan Subohi

THE future depends on the Covid-19 trajectory, but the good news is that Pakistan will not run out of food anytime soon. Thanks to the nature and the farming community, Pakistan is food secure for now.

Experts believe that if the health crisis exacerbates, the risk to food security can only be mitigated by radical plans to divert the requisite resources to support the rural economy.

Currently, the country has sufficient stocks of wheat, rice, sugar, pulses, edible oil, onions, tomatoes, potatoes and greens besides cattle stocks. The government has banned the export of wheat and wheat products, pulses and onions for a year. This will also serve to ensure the price stability in Ramazan when food demand spikes.

According to dependable sources in the Ministry of Food Security and Research, the wheat harvest is good and should be sufficient for a year. Stocks of imported cooking oil can last for seven months. Stocks of pulses will give a cover of over a month. Supplies of fruits and vegetables are normal with no sign of stress so far.

Some progressive farmers from Sindh and Punjab noted a dip in demand for fruits and vegetables in cities. The lockdown, they said over the phone, has affected perishable horticulture products the most. They called for enhanced trading through smartphones and a settlement through e-payments so that only truckers would need to travel. 'The government needs to guarantee the availability of agricultural inputs at affordable rates to skirt disruptions in food supplies,' a Sindh farmer said.

'The government must ensure the availability of agricultural inputs at affordable rates to skirt disruptions in food supplies'

Agriculture experts are worried about mid-sized farmers who are said to be bearing the brunt of the lockdown. They are facing difficulties in acquiring farm inputs and selling their produce. Experts urged policymakers to ensure the well-being of the farming community for steady grains and greens supplies. 'Much will depend on access to quality seeds and affordable fertiliser and pesticides,' a retired agriculturist noted.

With the textile industry in trouble, demand prospects for cotton are not bright. Besides, a greater interest from the government in food crops can nudge farmers in the cotton belt to switch to food crops in the Kharif season for which sowing has started and will continue till June. Rice, sugar cane, cotton, maize, moong, mash, bajra and jowar are key Kharif crops.


To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT