World Food Day 2008: Soaring Prices and Hunger in Pakistan

Posted on October 15, 2008
Filed Under >Roshan Malik, Economy & Development, Education, Environment, Food
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Roshan Malik

About 38 percent children population below five years of age are either underweight or malnourished and around 36.2 percent people live below the poverty line in Pakistan. Primary enrolment of 5-9 years old children in Pakistan is the lowest in the region.

Fifty six percent of the people have access tap water while 42% have the luxury of using flush toilet. The emission of Carbon dioxide has doubled in the era between 1990-2004 causing more pollution and endangering sustainable development. All these figures haunt us as a nation, as a human being and as a part of modern world.

Pakistan like many developing countries has been facing food shortages. Food inflation soared beyond the control of government on one hand and food items went far beyond the access and affordability of common people. Despite the bumper wheat crop last year, Atta (flour) shortage in the country has proved that merely adequate production cannot ensure food security unless there is an effective and concrete distribution mechanism. Food shortage and price hike has ignited social unrest in the country but government’s response is more focused on complying the donors’ demands rather than looking into the problem holistically.

World Food Day (WFD), is observed on October 16 every year with a commitment to raise the awareness about the issues related to food and hunger. This day is observed in more than 150 countries and this year theme is World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy. In Pakistan, Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MINFAL) observes WFD and minister delivers his inaugural speech (sipasnama) with a commitment of government to ensure food security and promote agriculture production in the country. It’s a platitude or token observation rather than a policy instrument.

President and prime minister have also given their usual messages on World Food Day 2008. But one hardly finds their rhetoric reflected in any government’s policy to make Pakistan a food secure country.

Infact the plight of the people living around us is miserable. Shakir Shujabadi, a famous Seraiki poet, highlights the miseries of poor people and prevailing social injustice in his poetry. I am his great admirer and earlier wanted to have a separate post on his profound poetry and his personal resilience to development delays. I adore his courage and audacity to overcome the miseries at personal level. His poetry is more powerful and convincing than writing a full article on World Food Day

I have tried to translate his poetry in Urdu which may be helpful for the readers.

Fikar da sijh ubhardh hai sochainday sham thee waindee
Fikar ka sooraj tuloo hota hai, sochte howay shaam ho jatee
Khayalaan day sakoon golainday aj kal shaam thee waindee
Khayalon main sakoon dhoondte howay shaam ho jatee
Unhaan day baal saaree raat ronday hin bokh tun sumday naheen
Un kay bachay saree raat rotay hain bhook say sotay naheen
Jinhaan de kayeen day bhalaan koon khidanday shaam thee waindee
Jin ki kisi kay bachon ko khilatay howay shaam ho jatee
Ghareeban dee dua yaa rab khabar naheen kin karainda hain
Ghareebon ki dua ya Rab khabar naheen kahah karta hai
Sada hanjoonaan dee tasbee ko phirainday shaam thee waindeeSada aansoo’n ki tasbeeh ko phertay howay shaam ho jatee
Kadaheen taan dukh we tal waisan kadaheen taan such day saa walsan
Kahbee tu dukh bhee tal jayayn gay, kabhee tu such kay saans lotayn gay
Pula khali khayalan day shaam thee waindee
Pulao khali khayalon kay pakatay sham ho jatee
Meda raaziq riyat kar namaazaan diyaan raat kar day
Mera Raziq riyat kar namazaain raat kee kar day
Jo roti shaam karainday shaam thee waindee
Jo roti sham ki kartay kartay shaam ho jatee
Main shakir bokh tha maryaa haan magar hatam tun ghat kain neee
Main shakir bhook ka maraa hon magar hatim say kam naheen
Kalam khairat hay maidee chalanday shaam thee waindeeKalam khairat hai meri chalatay shaam ho jateee


Aye Pakistan day logo paleedian koon muka dewo
Aye Pakistan kay logo paleedion ko khatam kar do
Naan taan aye jain we naan rakhay aye naan wala dewo
Warna jis nain yeh naam rakha hai, yeh naam us ko lota do
Jitha mukhlis namazee hin oh masjid we hai Baitullah
Jahan mukhlis namazee hain woh masjid bhee hai Baitullah
Jo mullah diyan dukanaan hin maseetan koon dahaa dewo
Jo molvion ki dukanain hain who masjidain bhee gira do
Utay insaf the parcham talay insaf wikda payey
Oper insaaf ka parcham, neechay insaaf bikta hai
Ihio jayeen har adaalat koon bamayay amla uda dewo
Aisee tamam adaalton ko bamaye amla uraa do
Parho rehman tha kalma bano shaitan day chailay
Parho rehman ka kalma bano shaitan kay chailay
Munafiq tun taan behtar hay jo kafir naan rakha dewo
Munafiq say tu behtar hai keh kafir naam rakhwa do
Jay such aakhan baghawat hai, baghawat naan hai shakir da
Jo such kehna baghawat hai, baghawat naam hai shakir ka
Charhao naizay tay sir bhanway, mayday khaimay jala dewo
Charhao naizay pe sar chahay mairay khaimay jala do

Sources:

(1) Flickr.com
(2) Food and Agriculture Organization
(3) Human Development Report
(4) The News Daily
(5) Youtube.com

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14 responses to “World Food Day 2008: Soaring Prices and Hunger in Pakistan”

  1. Roshan says:

    MQ
    I am not sure about his published work but will try to explore if he has any. I personally feel that his work and his resilience needs to be acknowledged and of course published.
    He is awesome and is more famous in South Punjab and has lot of fans both in rural and urban areas. He is from Shujabad a tehsil in Multan Distt, thats why his Takhalus is Shakir Shujabadi. He has some serious health problems and is often hospitalized but hardly gets any support from government (as usual).
    Here are few of his Dohras
    http://www.seraikigeet.com/seraiki_poetry.html

  2. MQ says:

    @Roshan:

    This man, Shakir, is a riot. I never heard of him before.

    I wonder where could one get hold of his published work, if any?

  3. readinglord says:

    @Roshan

    Thank you dear for the response.

    My point is what is the sense of raising ‘support price’, but to support the feudals in power when the price of wheat is already soaring high out of the reach of the people at large.

    Do they want to repeat the devastating famine of Bengal in early 1940’s when there was no dearth of eatables but their prices had risen so high that the people lacked the purchasing power to buy them? In the present circumstances the raising of support price seems to be a patently anti-people measure.

  4. Roshan says:

    @readinglord
    Donors here imply for Multilateral Donors (World Bank, Asian Development Bank) or Bilateral Donors (USAID, DFID, AusAid and so on so forth). I have never been a fan of government support price as consumers ultimately have to pay that price. I am more for agriculture policies which favor poor small farmers and protect rural livelihoods rather than helping those big farmers who already have garnered many favors in agriculture policy discourse.
    Nature blessed us with 13 agriculture zones and we are expert in messing up with natural resources. Now a country which had a potential to feed its population is now begging for food support.
    @I agree with your comments regarding population growth and food production. Obviously in long term future, we wont be able match our food production with population growth. But current crisis was not about low production rather was mismanagement of wheat harvested in 2007, which government exported at low prices and then imported at high prices when realizing shortfall of supply in national demand. Additionally, the prices of agriculture inputs (seed, fertilizer, fuel, electricity, transportation) is soaring and causing rise in cost of production.

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