Fruit for the rich, grass for the poor

Sir: Pakistan is an agricultural country with fertile land, sufficient water resources, generally favourable ecology and hardworking farm labour. But due to thoughtless planning and mismanagement of agricultural resources, this beautiful country has become food deficient, where people are starving even in rural areas. In an agricultural country where food and fodder are sufficiently available to meet human and animal needs locally, it is very strange that Pakistan imports vegetables and fruits from neighbouring countries. In urban areas prices of foodstuffs are skyrocketing. Vegetables and fruit are beyond the reach of a middle class family. Weekly markets have also failed to provide relief to low-income groups and pensioners. How can a low salaried person afford the luxury of fruit in Pakistan? Food security is posing a serious problem in Pakistan. Unfortunately our rulers are insensitive to this basic human need. In the master plan for Islamabad, there was a provision for farms to supply vegetables and fruit to the residents of the capital. What happened to these farms is no secret. On paper there is a ‘kitchen garden’ scheme with a supposedly hefty budget to motivate people living in big houses to grow vegetables for personal consumption. Though no research is available, it can be safely surmised that bureaucrat housing schemes in provincial capitals could produce sufficient vegetables and fruit for the people living in metropolises, while the lawns of Islamabad Club can produce sufficient vegetables for the capital as well. But the bureaucrats want to have large lawns to relax in rather than allowing vegetables to grow. In the cantonment areas, large tracts of land can be used for agricultural purposes. Let the army take the lead and start a scheme on the lines of military dairy farms. Food security is as important as border security for the people of Pakistan. According to text books on the subject, population is an important element of power. A starved population cannot contribute to the defence of the country qualitatively. There is a dire need to boost production of vegetables and fruit to control market forces. To achieve this objective a national food security programme should be started to give relief to the people. They need food more than a Metro bus. 


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