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Who is to blame for Pakistan’s Food Shortages?

Agriculture is crucial to alleviating hunger in developing nations. The figures have been troubling for Pakistan — Nizamani, in Dawn newspaper, writes that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has disrupted global supply chains to the point where Pakistani farmers will suffer greatly, owing largely to an increase in the price of wheat in international markets that exceeds the government-instituted “support price.” An even larger issue is the farmer’s lack of access to the formal financial sector.

Nizamani remarks that bankers lack the institutional resources to collect significant data about farms and rural enterprises. They do not have the awareness to make intelligent investment decisions for their businesses. Agricultural transformation is also impossible with no official finance. As a result, our population will continue to experience food supply problems. Farmers are at the mercy of arthis and local money lenders, who provide only little liquidity to farmers.

Along with the above-mentioned issues in the financial sector, agricultural productivity has suffered, and local administrations appear to be worsening the situation with transparency concerns. For example, the government of Punjab recently reduced its wheat planting objective from 16.70 million-acre to 16.21 million. At the same time, it announced large increases in the sowing of potato and oil seed crops, claiming those as a replacement for the reduced wheat target.

However, according to Ahmad Faraz Khan in Dawn, farmers feel that the numbers being given by the government are incorrect. Moreover, the government in FY 2020-2021 moved from being an importer to the exporter in crops that we ourselves had a shortage in, which resulted in further losses to the economy.

Not just that, all in all, Pakistan’s agriculture, too, suffers from the scourge of colonial heritage and is a textbook example of resource concentration among tiny, powerful cartels. Despite greater prosperity, Pakistan’s green revolution has harmed local ecology and fostered inefficient irrigation methods by strong farmers, resulting in huge lands being uncultivable.