IN 1983, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) defines food security in a way that,“ Food security is assurance that at all times all people have both economic and physical access to basic food which they need”.
In 1986, the World Bank redefined food security like this, “At all times, all people have access to enough food for their healthy and active life”. Thus food insecurity exists when all people don’t have economic and physical access to food at all times. In food insecurity, people have no access to food and thus they cannot maintain their healthy and active life.
The quality and amount of food available at global, national and at local level can be affected by many factors which may include war, population growth, disasters, environment, climate and agricultural practices. Also income, gender, status and geographic location affect the access of food at person level. There are many reasons for food insecurity which include poverty, gender inequity, alarming population growth rate and urbanization, crop based systems and environmental factors.
Poverty is one of the reasons for food insecurity. Poverty creates a bulk of food insecurity while combining with other political and socio-economic problems like poor people have no or lack of access towards resources to buy quality food or to produce food for them, poor farmers have small land holding, less effective techniques for farming purpose and lack of access to input as a result of which food production is limited. Thus, poor farmers cannot grow enough food even for themselves.
Women play an important role in providing nutrition and food for their families by performing their role as income earners, food traders, producers and processors. Due to their low economic and social status, they have limited access to land ownership, decision making, training and education. Utilization of food can be increased by improving the knowledge of women regarding food safety and nutrition.
The increasing population and urbanization is one of the major causes of food insecurity. The birth rate is more as compared to death rate, due to which population is increasing. As the population is increasing, the demand for food is also increasing. The pressure on productive land which is already in use is increasing to produce more and more food. Also, cities are spreading across the productive land due to which agriculture production which include food production is decreasing.
Agriculture is a sector which have characteristic that if input is low then the output will be low. In some regions where crop based system is present and population is high, there is lack of information, technology system is basic and lack of financial markets. There are different technologies for different regions i.e. timing of fertilizer application is different for rain fed areas as compared to irrigated areas, but the farmers have no how know and he is using technologies which are even not fit for his land. Due to this food production is decreasing and cause food insecurity.
Environmental factors are also contributing in the problem of food insecurity. Floods and cyclones clears the large quantity of food as food grows, or it is stored for the purpose of later use. Insects, pests are also contributing in decreasing food as insects attack on the growing crop due to which production is decreased, also insects are involved in destroying the stored food material. Other environment factors such as land degradation, soil erosion due to winds, and salinization due to heavy irrigation, desertification and soil pollution are the factors which play a role in decreasing agricultural food production.
There are several techniques that can be utilized to prevent food insecurity challenge. Problems related to land such as soil erosion, soil fertility, salinity and water logging need instant attention to achieve potential of crops. The problem of food insecurity can be solved by bringing new land under agriculture. About 4 million acre land of country is under riverine zone where there is no shortage of moisture. These areas of land should be distributed among the people which have no land.
The efficiency of irrigation water is most important for the future of Pakistan. The government should have to plan for the future needs, by taking account into agricultural, industrial and domestic need of the country. The government should have to ensure the timely and adequate availability of water for farming purpose to enhance the food production. In arid areas such as Tharparker and Cholistan, there should be proper management techniques for the harvesting of rain water.
There should be proper application of physical inputs such as seed, fertilizer and pesticides. Quality seed should be used at proper time with proper seed rate. The quality seed is available only for some cash crops but it should also be available for other cereals and pulses. Fertilizers should be added in soil to enhance soil fertility. The organic and inorganic fertilizers should be used in integrated manner. The pesticides should be used to control insects. For plant protection, integrated pest management should be done.
Food insecurity can also be prevented by increasing the productivity of major food crops such as wheat, rice, maize, sugarcane and other pulses. Due to more population our demand for food is more while our production is less which is the cause of food insecurity. On the other hand, due to some mismanagement there is a wide gap in current yield and potential yields of our varieties. So, proper techniques should be used to fill this gap. Proper management practices such as proper sowing time and proper seed rate etc. should be used to increase the productivity of crops.
Research regarding the productivity of different crops should be conducted in different research institutes. New techniques which were helpful in increasing yield of major crops should be developed and these techniques should be extended at farmer level. In Pakistan, still there are no proper methods for transfer of techniques to farmers, thus a lot of persons should be hired which may transfer the new technologies to the farmers. Also, new technologies for increasing yield should be transferred to farmers through social media such as Internet, Television and also through Newspapers.
The government should have to make policies which may suit the poor farmers which are unable to cultivate their land due to financial problems. The government should have to provide subsidies on the input such as seeds and fertilizers. As, the farmers are less interested in cultivation of pulses and oilseed crops due to less profit and more cost, thus the government should have to make policies such as by increasing their markets and by giving more subsidies as compared to other crops. Also proper management should be done regarding the irrigation through canal water.