‘Sweet’ Pakistanis are Feeling ‘Bitter’

Posted on August 27, 2009
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Economy & Development, Food, Society
Total Views: 94084

Owais Mughal

Yes literally. Today I read in news that Pakistan is leading the region in per person annual sugar consumption. On average, every Pakistani is now consuming 25 kilograms of sugar every year. Please take few seconds to think about it. Take your eyes off the monitor and for few seconds imagine what I just wrote….shabash – Teek hai – bilkul Teek – every Pakistani…25 kilograms of sugar….in one year. wow.

Trailing behind Pakistan are other countries of the region like India with 14 kg/person, China with 11 kg/person and Bangladesh with 10 kg/person.

It is expected that in 2009, Pakistan’s sugar demand is going to be 4,350,000 tonnes. Pakistan is expected to produce 3,600,000 tonnes of sugar locally while the rest will have to be imported.

I also want to quote a line from a Urdu daily today which reads like this:

The sweet obsessed Pakistani nation consumes sugar worth of Rs 200 billion annually

The above situation however, does not give us the complete picture of what is currently going on with sugar market in Pakistan.

With the advent of Ramzan, and amidst all rumors of usual sugar hoarding there is a full fledge sugar crisis at hand in Pakistan. I am sure most of our readers are aware of the usual blame game that is going on between Govt and opposition on who is making the most profit. But the reality on street is that price of sugar in retail has hit Rs 52/kilogram in Karachi market and in rest of the country it is even higher. Government is claiming that utility stores will sell sugar for Rs 38/kg but when will it happen, remains to be seen.

Few days ago I was reviewing Shahabnama where it was mentioned that once in Ayub Khan’s time sugar shortage happened. Ayub Khan’s agriculture minister in those days was A. Hoti who overnight got the laqab of cheeni chor (sugar thief) from the public. Where ever this Minister went people used to shout ‘cheeni chor cheeni chor’. It is said that Minister actually took the title to heart and remedied the situation by going against sugar hoarders. Times have changed. Today I think any protest like this will not even ‘move a lice on the ear’ (kan pe jooN rengna) of any Minister.

So as I see it we have two issues at hand. While government needs to come hard on sugar hoarders and official planners who couldn’t foresee an impending shortage before hand, we as a nation also need to cut down on our ‘cheeni’ (sugar – not Chinese) consumption.

Did I also mention yet that same news which talked about 25kg/yr number also claimed that every 5th Pakistani is diabetic. While I cannot confirm this number, you can see the direct connection between the two phenomena. 25kg sugar = 0.2×178 = 35.6 million diabetic patients in Pakistan. wow.

I’ll close this post on this famous Urdu idiom:

meetha meetha hup hup, kaRwa kaRwa thoo thoo (sweet attraction, bitter repulsion)

Sugar Trivia:

Despite Pakistan’s enormous sugar consumption we still lag other regions like North America where annual sugar consumption is 38 kg/per person. Oceania including Australia is 45 kg/person and in South America annual sugar consumption is 46.5 kg/person.


1. Pride News
2. Pakistan Sugar Annual Report 2009
3. Trends in Global Sugar Consumption

Photo Credits: Murad Ali Shah and ZAK!

24 responses to “‘Sweet’ Pakistanis are Feeling ‘Bitter’”

  1. Riaz Haq says:

    In addition to relatively large sugar per capita consumption, Pakistanis also consume significantly higher amounts of 2 to 3 times more wheat, meat, poultry and milk products than other South Asian nations, getting more protein and almost half their daily, per capita calorie intake from non-food-grain sources.

    While the average per capita calorie intake of about 2500 calories is within normal range, nutritional balance necessary for good health appears to be lacking in Pakistanis’ dietary habits. One way to alleviate the sugar crisis in Pakistan is to reduce sugar consumption and substitute it with greater intake of fruits and vegetables, which is a paltry 100 grams a day versus 300 grams a day in US, EU and Australia. There is an urgent need for better health and nutritional education through strong public-private partnership to promote healthier eating in Pakistan.

    http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/09/solving-pakistans-s ugar-crisis.html

  2. Owais Mughal says:

    Hammd, you point is noted. you are right, sugar is cheap energy boost.

  3. Hammad Malik says:

    Did you take a moment out to ponder why do we consume so much sugar Sugar is the cheapest source of instant energy boost for hundreds of millions of Pakistani’s who do the hard labour. Just go to any construction site and you will see a chai wala dhaba right next to it. Next time a labour comes to your place for a chore, ask him what he needs, he will tell you tea with 3-4 rich tea spoons of sugar, and these cups of tea taken after inervals give ’em the energy needed.

  4. Owais Mughal says:

    Umar, this alif-noon clip was great. made me smile :) thanks for sharing

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