Food Security Should Be Pakistan’s Top Priority

Karachi (PR): Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, President FPCCI, said that after neglecting agriculture for 75 years, now is the time to make food security Pakistan’s top priority. He added that the business community welcomes Prime Minister’s Kissan Package; but, at the same time, cautioned that the devil lies in the transparent, fair and effective execution of the package – announcing a package is not enough as there have been many unsuccessful agricultural packages in the history of Pakistan, he added.

He also appreciated the fact that, in the given circumstances, earmarking PKR. 1.8 trillion for the Kissan Package is a step in the right direction. FPCCI Chief explained that the soaring food prices is the single most debilitating factor in an ordinary man’s life and that is the reason Pakistan ranks one of the lowest in food security and one of the highest in malnutrition &growth stunting.

Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh apprised that FPCCI has established specialized standing committees on agriculture, food security, water resources, climate change, livestock and dairy farming at central & regional levels to help government in the policymaking in the larger national interest.

Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh has put forward a few suggestions to make Kissan Package more effective: (i) the flood hit areas should be prioritized (ii) farmers should be offered collateral-free loans as furnishing collaterals is next to impossible for 90 percent of the farmers (iii) electricity bills of the flood-affected farmers should be waived for at least 3 months (iv) the government should make it clear to IMF and other international donors that there will be no reduction in the announced agricultural package due to any targets (v) food storage, food processing and food export businesses should also be given subsidized loans under the package to minimize the produce losses and earn precious foreign exchange.

President FPCCI reiterated the fact that business, industry and trade community has nothing to do with the politics; and, they are only concerned with economic development, employment generation and national security of Pakistan.

Brig Iftikhar Opel, SI (M), Retd.

Secretary General