Politicians ignoring the plight of the poor confronting inflation

On Sunday, Dr Hanif Mughal, Senior Vice President of Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) said over eight million Pakistanis are facing hunger and awaiting relief for months but to no avail. Last year, Pakistan faced a serious food crisis which has resulted in widespread devastation and left tens of millions food insecure, he said. Dr Hanif Mughal noted that nothing had been done to support the hungry and starving people as politics has taken centre stage for months.

He informed that Pakistan is facing a significantly deteriorating situation in all provinces, especially in Sindh, where five areas previously classified as in crisis are now facing a serious emergency.

The UN has defined Pakistan as a country facing a major food crisis since 2017, when over 50pc of its analysed population was in phase three, a problem or above.

Even before the monsoon hit Pakistan, fertiliser shortages and lack of irrigation water had affected ‘Rabi’ wheat crop yields and lowered livestock production. Later, flooding and landslides brought widespread destruction, disrupting the lives and livelihoods of about 33 million people in Pakistan.

Around 4.4m acres of agricultural land were damaged, prompting the downward revision of 2022 production forecasts for rice, maize, sorghum, and millet. About 0.8m livestock were estimated to have perished.

The total damage and loss in the agriculture sector was estimated at almost $13bn, consisting mainly of crops (82pc) followed by livestock (17pc).

It is estimated that the loss or damage of agricultural inputs, including seed stocks, fertilisers, machinery and irrigation infrastructure, may result in a contraction in the area planted with a negative impact on 2023 production.

Prices continued to increase until the end of the year, and by December 2022, the price of a basket of basic food items was 36pc higher year-on-year taking a toll on the masses with no respite in sight, he said.

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