The World Food Day 2016 was celebrated here on Friday at National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) Islamabad with theme of this year “Climate is changing; Food and Agriculture must too” to raise public awareness about the importance of the day and theme as well as to firm commitment to eradicate hunger and poverty in the world. The event was started with a video film of FAO on climate is changing.
The event was organized by Federal Ministry of National Food Security and Research, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) in collaboration with Food Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Oxfam International-Pakistan.
On this occasion the message of President, Islamic Republic of Pakistan was read by Dr. Ahmad Bakhsh Mahar, Member Plant Sciences Division PARC, message of Prime Minister of Pakistan was read by Dr. Munir Ahmad, Director General Agricultural Engineering Division PARC, message of Director General-FAO Rome was read by Patrick T. Evans, FAO Country Representative in Pakistan, message of Executive Director-WFP was read by Stephen Gluning, Acting Country Director WFP-Pakistan, the message of IFAD President was read by Qaim Shah IFAD Head in Pakistan, the message of Oxfam International was read by Ms. Sammiya Tur Rauf, Oxfam-Pakistan.
President Islamic Republic of Pakistan in his message said the annual celebration of World Food Day provides us an opportunity to renew our commitment to make all out efforts to ensure global food security in collaboration with FAO. This year theme has a multidimensional approach to target hunger and poverty in all its form and provide impetus to social and economic progress. Pakistan is one of the countries vulnerable to adverse impact of climate change on livelihoods of the population and the overall economy. Inspite of increased food production, food security is a serious concern in Pakistan and the Govt attaches high priority in addressing food insecurity of its population as stated in its several policy documents including the Vision 2025.
Prime Minister of Pakistan in his message said that Pakistan is celebrating World Food Day to show solidarity with the world for the cause of the day. Pakistan’s economy is primarily agrarian and hence prone to vagaries of weather and changing climate. Pakistan’s contribution to global greenhouse emissions is very small but it is highly vulnerable to adverse impact of climatic change especially extreme events of floods, drought, glacial lakes outburst, heat and cold waves etc. We need a dramatic shift in thinking to help the world’s poorest to break the cycle of hunger and poverty by 2030. I invite the attention of national and international leaders, farmers groups, and research organizations to find solutions on war-footing basis that really nourish the world while improving farm incomes, empowering poor households and protecting the environment. The present government is making all out efforts to make agriculture sector more vibrant and it has taken a number of initiatives to focus on agro-based industries and strengthening linkages with the agricultural research and development. It will play a pivotal role in transfer of technology and knowledge to the farming community. The PM further said that Pakistan is playing a significant role in combating climate change and mitigation efforts in the sectors of agriculture, energy, forestry and livestock. Appropriate measures relating to disaster preparedness, capacity building, institutional strengthening and technology transfer have also been taken. A comprehensive framework for the development of action plans for national efforts on adaptation and mitigation is being developed as well. I am optimistic that Ministry of National Food Security and Research would go beyond developing “Food Security Policy” and would work with other Ministries and social protection organizations to formulate action plan for breaking the hunger and poverty cycle through inclusive growth of all the stakeholders.
Addressing on the occasion the Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan said that this year’s theme is “climate is changing, food and agriculture must too” carries importance not to my Ministry but the entire world. The theme mainly highlights that how food and agriculture should respond to challenges of climate change. Minister said that the UN Secretary-General in his message has rightly said that as the global population expands we will need to satisfy an increasing demand for food.
The Minister NFSR said that agriculture sector is most vulnerable to climate change which has direct implications on the food security and livelihood of 180 million people. It is directly affecting ecosystems and our ability to produce food for the teaming millions. The 60% rural inhabitants in Pakistan are involved in the production of food not only for their own needs but also for the urban population. The rural population of countries like Pakistan contributes little to greenhouse gasses emission but they suffer more from natural as well as manmade disasters. Globally, Pakistan is contributing only 1% to the greenhouse gasses from energy, industry and transport sector. However, the agriculture sector contributes Methane from the paddy rice fields and livestock. He said that there is an immense pressure on natural resources and environment due to intensification of crops and livestock sectors in order to feed every growing population in the country. As a result, we are experiencing rapid ground water depletion, watersheds degradation, desertification, deforestation and rangelands deterioration.
Minister appreciated the efforts of climate experts, donors and civil society for sensitizing climate change related issues to the planners and policy makers. Efforts of researchers were also acknowledged to find out solutions of climate change related threats. He mentioned the development of dry rice production technology for reducing Methane emission from rice fields. Similarly, the direct wheat sowing technology developed for the combined paddy harvested fields to resolve straw burning practices is another example of environmental benefits. He also mentioned another important initiative of the Government to shift from diesel to solar water pumping system. He said various initiatives in different sectors to reduce emissions will definitely lead to save environment, conserve resources, reduce poverty and enhance food and nutritional security at all level. He also shared the draft food security policy document to have comments from civil society and media besides parliamentarians and others.
Federal Secretary of Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) Muhammad Abid Javed addressing on the occasion said that this event each year not only recalls the FAO founding in 1945 but also promotes worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and malnutrition. The theme “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.” highlights to combat the climate change impacts on agriculture and food systems. Like rest of the world, our country is also warming up. Glaciers are melting, sea level is rising, and extreme weather events like droughts, cyclones and floods are becoming more common. All these events make it harder to grow more food to fulfill our commitment to end hunger by 2030. Cumulatively, climate change is affecting the health of people and causing more natural disasters and environmental problems. In order to feed a growing population in Pakistan which is projected to exceed 300 million by the 2050, we have to learn to grow what we need in a sustainable manner without destroying natural resources. Secretary said that the given situation compels us to refocus our strategies for addressing extreme poverty and food insecurity within the context of the climate change. Also it emphasizes to incorporate the climate change agenda into national development strategies. FAO has projected that agricultural production must rise 60% by 2050 to feed a larger population. Climate change constitutes a major obstacle in achieving high level food production target.
Acting Chairman Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) Dr. Nadeem Amjad addressing on the occasion said climate change is one of the major challenges faced by the world and Pakistan is no exception to it. Everyone is seeing and experiencing the effects of climate change in multiple forms like global warming, increase in frequency and intensity of floods and droughts, changes in seasons, and rapid melting of glaciers. Pakistan is among the most vulnerable countries in the world facing climate risks, which means climate change is now threatening the future of millions in Pakistan. He said that it is high time for global community to take urgent action to adapt to climate change for its positive impacts. PARC has planned to work across the target stakeholders ranging from rural communities to consumers, line departments of the government and civil society, to ensure that Pakistan’s agriculture can adapt to climate change. He urged the fellow scientists to commit to the theme of this year’s and make every effort to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change to Pakistan’s agriculture.
Director General of National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) Dr. Muhammad Azeem Khan in his vote of thanks appreciated the efforts of all collaborative organizations to make it success. He said the present of Federal Minister for NFSR, Secretary MNFSR firm the commitment of Government of Pakistan. He also appreciated the role of electronic and print media to highlight the agriculture sector of Pakistan.
On this occasion Federal Minister for NFSR Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan awarded seven (07) farmers including men and women with Cash Awards namely to Mrs. Nagma from Multan, Amjad Pervaiz Pirpur, Naghat Pervaiz, Haji Fojan from Quetta, Mrs. Arfa Baloch from Quetta, Mrs. Noshaba Islamabad and Amanullah.
Later on Federal Minister NFSR and other dignitaries visited agri-exhibition which was set up on this occasion to share innovative approach in the agriculture sector of Pakistan by Agriculture Poliytech Institute (API) NARC, FAO, WFP, ICI Pakistan and other institutes of PARC system.