Quetta – Balochistan is facing severe food insecurity, said participants of one day consultative dialogue, on Wednesday.
30 out of 32 districts of Balochistan are food insecure and only Quetta and Jaffarabad are food secure as per the report of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
These issues were revealed during a one-day consultative dialogue held to celebrate world food day in Quetta Press Club by Azat foundation in collaboration with HARD, ActionAid, Pakistan Kissan Ittehad and Agriculture research department of Balochistan.
30 out of 32 districts of Balochistan are food insecure – SDPI
World food day is celebrated every year on 16th October and theme for this year is Social protection and agriculture: Breaking the cycle of rural poverty
Speaking on the occasion, Marcel Stallen, International Project Manager of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that a lot of work needs to be done to make Balochistan food secure.
Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) has stated that 29 out of 32 districts of Balochistan are facing drought conditions due to fewer rainfalls last year.
“At the moment FAO is working in 14 districts of Balochistan on projects funded by USAID and AUSAID,” said Mr. Stallen. He added, “Balochistan government should convince international donors to fund FAO so that we can expand our operations in Balochistan.”
Commenting on the existing agriculture policy of Balochistan, Mr. Stallen remarked that it’s outdated. “FAO has developed a new agriculture policy for Balochistan which is in its final stages and its awaiting approval from provincial cabinet,” he informed the participants of the meeting.
5 rivers in Khuzdar district alone dump 350,000 cusecs of water in Arabian Sea very year – Sultan Shahwani.
Highlighting the reasons for food insecurity in Balochistan, Sultan Shahwani of HARD Balochistan said, 5 rivers in Khuzdar district alone dump 350,000 cusecs of water in Arabian Sea very year.
80 percent people of Balochistan depend on agriculture for their livelihood either directly or indirectly, claimed Naseer Shahwani, representative of Zamindar Action committee (ZAC) which is the union of agriculturalists of Balochistan.
He alleged that all funds allocated for agricultural development in Quetta during tenure of this government have been embezzled and ended in pockets of activists of ruling parties.
Panjgur district of Balochistan alone can produce wheat for entire Pakistan – Naseer Shahwani.
Mr. Shahwani further claimed that Balochistan can be food basket for entire Pakistan if due attention is provided to agriculture in the province. “Panjgur district of Balochistan alone can produce wheat for entire Pakistan,” said representative of ZAC.
Ahmad Jan Baloch, a social activist, contended the assertion that Balochistan is an agricultural province. “Pakistan is an agricultural country but not Balochistan,” claimed Mr. Baloch.
Participants of the consultative dialogue lamented the absence of senior officials of agriculture department of Balochistan.
“We invited Secretary and Director General Agriculture department but they didn’t bother to come,” Zahid Mengal, executive director of Azat Foundation told the participants.
Secretary and Director General Agriculture department were invited to consultative meeting but they didn’t bother to come – Zahid Mengal.
Other who spoke at the occasion include Dr. Khair Mohammad and Ghulam Jan who are agriculture experts, Gul Khan Naseer Head of Programs of Azat Foundation, Noor Ahmad Mengal from Pakistan Kissan Ittehad and Arif Shah Kakar, Associate Professor of Agriculture college Quetta.
Meeting was concluded on the note that both provincial and federal government need to take urgent steps to make Balochistan food secure.
Published in The Balochistan Point on October 14, 2015