This is apropos a Business Recorder news item “WFP warns cuts could push 24m people to brink of famine” carried by the newspaper on its front page yesterday; according to which, the World Food Programme (WFP) has said that shrinking funding is forcing it to drastically slash rations in many operations, warning that 24 million more people risked being pushed to the brink of starvation.

“The United Nations agency said it had been struggling to meet growing global needs for food assistance while facing a funding shortfall of over 60 percent this year — the highest in its history,” the newspaper report has further said.

The foregoing highlights the enormity of human misery so much so that the global food organization has stated that it is no longer in a position to save or protect hungry and starving people simultaneously. Hamstrung by the paucity of funds, it can only “save the starving at the cost the hungry.”

Pakistan, the world’s fifth most populous country, finds itself at 99th position among 129 countries in a Global Hunger Index. Strangely enough, the reasons behind the ranking are not only lack of accessibility and affordability but also political and economic crises.

In this regard, it is important to note that South Asia is a region with the highest hunger level. But more important is the fact that this region has the highest child stunting rate and highest child wasting rate. In Pakistan, nearly 45 percent of children younger than five years of age are stunted.

It is quite true that a very large number of people in Pakistan are going hungry every day. Be that as it may, rising food inflation in the country has clearly added to the incidence of hunger in a big way.

Although ours is, essentially, an agrarian economy, we are yet to fully exploit the true agriculture potential because both farming and the raising of animals are still far from satisfactory.

We need to invest in agriculture, which contributes about 20 percent to GDP and absorbs 43 percent of labour force, on a very large scale. Investing in this sector can help ensure that nobody should go to sleep empty stomach.

Rahila Mirza (Karachi)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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