STAFF REPORT LHR: There is a significant increase in the number of food insecure people in Pakistan, which now stands at 51 per cent of the total population as compared to about 22 per cent five years back; this is largely due to the decline in agricultural production, especially in Punjab caused by ill-conceived policies.

“Agriculture productivity declined between 2007 and 2011 in the Punjab, whereas in Sindh agriculture productivity got increased, despite the fact that its area under cultivation has decreased,” remarked Pakistan Agriculture Scientists Association Chairman Jamshed Iqbal Cheema while addressing a Agriculture Journalists Associations discussion.

Quoting figures, he said that the area under wheat crop cultivation in Punjab had increased by 0.20 per cent during the last four years while productivity was declined by 9.7 per cent and per acre yield by 9.90 per cent as compared to Sindh where area increased by 4.75 per cent, production increased by 13 per cent and per acre yield by 8.25 per cent.

According to him, same case was with maize, rice, sugarcane and cotton crops, which is alarming not only for the farming community but also food managers of the country.

He was of the view that the government should have reduce the input cost by waiving taxes on the inputs and bringing down diesel and electricity prices.

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