Ensuring food security is one of the most pressing issues during the global pandemic. Holistic approach at every level needs to be in place to respond to this critical challenge effectively.

This was stated by experts from food security and agriculture sector in the public and private sector as well as academia during a webinar ‘Ensuring Food Security in constrained economic situation of Pakistan’, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Friday.

Speaking on the occasion, Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) Chairman Dr Muhammad Azeem Khan emphasised on the need for an integrated approach towards ensuring food security in the country.

“Food security is directly linked with the national security,” he said, adding that we need to improve the quality of our agricultural products as well as make them climate change resistant to boost our trade in this sector.

“Scientific research and use of technology as joint publicprivate ventures is imperative to respond to new challenges,” Khan said.

He also stressed on the need for contextual production and improving the seed system to counter rust attack and pests.

Meanwhile, Planning Commission Climate Change and Nutrition Member Food Security Dr Hamid Jalil highlighted that food security requires a long-time plan and thus, the ministry has made a National Food Security Agenda, which outlines the long-term policies of food security.

He added that a team of experts is being sought to regulate all the existing bodies.

“Besides bringing reforms to make our production more sustainable, revamping agriculture research, cotton revival programme, disease eradication and facilitating small holder agriculture sector are some of the focused areas,” he concluded.

SDPI Executive Director Abid Qaiyum Suleri said that food security in these times of economic constraint is one of the major threats to humanity.

Primitive methods of agriculture, guesstimates-based data, administrative failures, which resulted in hoarding and the climate change which has been affecting our crops and their production are some of the major contributing factors here.

“A food security dashboard has been established at the PM Office with data and statistics of each district available to accurately guess the trends in supply and demands first hand,” Suleri informed the panellists.

He added that the Chinese government has appointed an agricultural commissioner in Pakistan under the banner of the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a heartening development.

Food System Expert Dr Zafar Mehmood was of view that we must control the large amount of wastage in our eating habits and through a behavioural change.

“Moreover, we need to work on the nutritional value of the foods and curb the trend adulteration in the country