ISLAMABAD (APP) – Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan Tuesday launched the first ever National Food Security Policy framework to provide a mechanism to address all four components of food security including food availability, accessibility, utilization and stability.

The policy envisages to achieve its objectives through alleviation of poverty, promotion of sustainable food production systems-by achieving an average growth rate of 4percent per annum, and making agriculture more productive, profitable, climate resilient, and competitive.

“Food availability will be ensured through increase in production of food items,” the minister said and added a national food security council is being set up under the chairmanship of the prime minister with the chief ministers and representatives from relevant government agencies to review the state of food security and take appropriate policy measures.

“The comprehensive strategy and action plan for addressing the food security issues in collaboration with national and international partners are also being deliberated at the ministry of national food security and research”, he added.

Bosan pointed out that measures will be taken to improve farmers’ access to quality inputs such as seed, fertilizers, pesticides, credit etc.

Furthermore, he said improved farm techniques Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) will also be promoted and issues like land and water management will also be addressed.

He said the government had also formulated and formally launched the first ever water policy, which became especially important in the wake of climate change and water shortages.

According to the policy framework, research will also be one of priority areas to address the emerging challenges of climate change, water stress, pests and diseases and other challenges.

Under the policy framework, federal and provincial governments would collaborate to harness best utilization of available resources to modernize agricultural production and improve accessibility of the people to food.

The accessibility of the food will be increased through market support initiatives and for a marginalized group of the society will be addressed by launching programs like national zero hunger program.

Food utilization aspect will be covered through food safety measures while food stability will be handled by providing quality production and trade, emergencies and disaster management, innovation and knowledge disseminating and policy support.

“Three significant aspects hampering the improvement in production of agriculture including development of resistant crop varieties, provision of quality seed and high input cost, the government has already undertaken various measures including promulgation of Plant Breeders’ Right Act, 2016, promulgation of Seed (amendment) Act 2015, and abolishing subsidy on fertilizer,” Sikandar Hayat Bosan added.

The minister said that during previous few years, the food crop availability had remained in surplus and most of the crops are being exported.

He informed that Pakistan was producing seven million ton of rice out of which over three million tons of rice were being exported. Similarly, he said potatoes and onions are also in surplus and the surplus crop is being sent to Central Asian and Middle Eastern Countries.

Responding to a question, the minister said that currently there was acute water shortage in the country and stressed the need to develop national consensus on building big water reservoirs to ensure water availability for human and agriculture uses.

He said that his ministry was specially focusing on the efficient use of irrigation system to ensure non wastage of water.

To another question, Bosan said Sugar Control Act was a provincial subject which needs to be reviewed and enforced to ensure that no sugar industry is built in the cotton growing areas.

In this regard, he said he always voiced against the sugar mafia at various forums.

Regarding provision of relief to farmers during last five years, the minister said he made it possible to reduce the cost of production for agriculture produces by lowering price of Urea fertilizer from Rs 1800 per bag to Rs 1400 per bag now, reducing the prices of pesticides and slashing tax duties on tractors and machineries from 17 percent to 5 percent.