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Availability & Affordability of Food Items in Pakistan




  • Availability_and_afordability_of_food_items_in_Pakistan_1

    A country’s agricultural development is generally attributed to improvements in its food supply and the gradual elimination of dietary deficiencies, improving the overall nutritional status of the country’s population coupled with change in preferences in the production, processing, distribution and marketing of food. Acculturation of diet habits, working style and leisure creates health hurdles even in poor especially in the low-income and middle-income countries.

     

     

     

    A country’s agricultural development is generally attributed to improvements in its food supply and the gradual elimination of dietary deficiencies, improving the overall nutritional status of the country’s population coupled with change in preferences in the production, processing, distribution and marketing of food. Acculturation of diet habits, working style and leisure creates health hurdles even in poor especially in the low-income and middle-income countries.

     

    Empirical evidences around the world depict that a diet high in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of diseases and play an important role in weight management, that’s why fresh and quality items are the preferences of the developed nations, the trend is also followed by the 2nd & diet conscious people of 3rd world countries.


    Availability_and_afordability_of_food_items_in_Pakistan_1Concerns of availability and affordability of fresh food items sustains due to weak institutional capacity of agriculture and line departments, inadequate price regulatory mechanism, lower quality control, inadequate agricultural storage, expensive credit, distorted price regime and poor marketing infrastructure dominated by intermediaries and having inefficient primitive agriculture markets & price controls for certain crops and limited value addition.

    Availability_and_afordability_of_food_items_in_Pakistan_2

    Facts captioned above depicts that Pakistan is self sufficient in all essential food items as availability is more than consumption except edible oil as its large portion is imported. Where the milk is concerned, besides per capita of 83 kgs/annum milk consumption, a quantity of 0.82 kgs/annum dry milk is also consumed which is almost imported to cater the needs of children and as a tea mixer. Above and beyond enough quantity of fresh milk available in Pakistan, sixty million US dollars spent on import of milk products in 2009-10.


    Pakistani soils produced 6.94 million tons of fruits, 6.19 million tons of vegetables and 0.76 million tones of pulses in 2009-10. Fruits production is usually misreported as enough quantity of apricots, dates, peaches, plums and grapes are not collected owing to remote areas, hard hilly areas and lack of logistics to take these to the metropolitan areas. During 2009-10, Fruits 686.6 thousand tons, vegetables 456.5 & fruit & vegetable juice 24 thousand tons were exported. It is worth mentioning that 50.78% is the share of potato only in the production of all vegetables, on the other way round onion, garlic, coriander, ginger & turmeric are not considered as vegetables they are condiments.


    Availability_and_afordability_of_food_items_in_Pakistan_3A sufficient quantity of Fruits especially mango and citrus are exported (citrus’s share 30% & mango’s share is 27% in total fruits exports). While in mango’s production is 1845.5 thousand tones (26.58% of all fruits) and citrus production was 2150 thousand tons (31% of all fruits) in 2009-10. It is the mandate of respective provincial governments to regulate market prices and Fruit & Vegetable Market Committees issue daily price lists estimated on the basis of volume of supply and demand of commodities and balances available in the market.


    Market Committees regulate the whole business to safeguard the interests of consumers and traders as well but the facts are reversed due to the cartels of Commission Agents/middlemen’s heavy margins. Currently 152 Grain & 95 Fruit & Vegetable markets are functional in Punjab. We would like to mention a virtual fact of sale of melons. Few months ago, a farmer brought a truck of 10 tons of melons in Badami Bagh, which was sold for just Rs. 50000. The middlemen, who paid for this, sold the same to retailers @Rs. 20/kg and the retailers further sold to the consumers at a price of Rs. 35-40/kg. This research showed heavy margins involved at market, which seems to be the sole cause of price surging, other factors may be hoarding, creation of artificial shortage, corruption among market committee’s employees and poor implementation of Agri Produce Marketing Acts. Similar is the case with vegetables, the growers got too meager returns and consumers have to pay a lot for it.


    Government of the Punjab foreseeing the potential is emphasizing to produce and export quality fruits and vegetables. The key initiatives in this portrait are Fruits & Vegetable development project, Supply Chain Management System and kitchen gardening in urban areas of the province.


    If the quality produce is produced it might be flight away and our nation would be bound to eat low quality produce. There must be some local standards, no food item is tradable even in local markets until and unless it is certified by somebody. Like china (China GAP) and India (India GAP) Pakistan should also launch Pakistan GAP to safeguard the health of our own people. The aforesaid facts reveals that Pakistan has potential for best supply and just increase in one percent area of fruits and vegetables, around big cities, can revolutionize the F&V business in Pakistan.


    At the end, we should say that a proper management and will of farmers could lead the system to a profitable, affordable and quality supply of key food items to the nation.


    About the Authors:

    The authors are Agricultural Economists based in Pakistan. Having served both in public & private sectors, they have been widely published by academic journals as well as various newspapers in Pakistan. They can be reached at yasirmehmood2@hotmail.com and

    bahzadpk@hotmail.com respectively. 

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