ISLAMABAD, Oct 16: The Senate was informed on Tuesday that up to 58 per cent of the country’s population suffered from ‘food insecurity’.
Giving details, the Minister for National Food Security and Research, Mir Israrullah Zehri, told the upper house of parliament that in 2007-08 it was estimated by the World Bank and UNDP that 17.2 per cent of the population was below the poverty line.
He said: “According to the National Nutrition Survey 2011 conducted by the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), around 58 per cent of the population is food insecure.”
Of the total affected population, he said, 29.6 per cent suffered from hunger or severe hunger.
The Senate was informed about various studies conducted by non-governmental organisations too, including a study titled “Food Insecurity in Pakistan 2009” carried out by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in 2009.
The SDPI study showed that 48.6 per cent of the population was food insecure, out of which 22.4 per cent was extremely poor.
The minister also painted a bleak picture of the remedial measures being adopted by the government and said his ministry had presented a ‘National Zero Hunger Programme’ to the prime minister at a workshop held on March 21.
“The announcement by prime minister during the workshop has yet to be formally approved,” the minister added.
The minister also acknowledged that the draft Zero Hunger Action Plan prepared by the World Food Programme (WFP) lacked operational details.
“To prepare a comprehensive Zero Hunger plan with clearly spelt-out activities and further engagements with donors and local stakeholders would be required,” he said.
However, he added that the government had taken measures to improve food security by revitalising agriculture production and by providing incentives to the farming community.