A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research was held on Wednesday at Parliament House. Chairman Committee, Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah chaired the meeting; that was attended by Senator Seemee Ezdi, Senator Sania Nishtar, Senator Kesho Bai, Senator Saifullah Abro, Senator Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar, Senator Kamran Murtaza, Senator Muhammad Akram and senior officers from the Ministry of National Food Security and Research along with all concerned. Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam was present as well.
The agenda that came under discussion entailed measures taken by the Ministry to evolve a uniform minimum support price for wheat in view of differences seen in support price of provinces last year. The Committee also discussed details of availability of certified wheat seed in view of increasing yield per acre.
Chairman Committee, Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah appreciated the efforts of the Minister for National Food Security and Research, Syed Fakhar Imam regarding the fixing of minimum support price for cotton. He said that a similar exercise to set the support price for wheat is required in order to raise the morale of growers; so that they do not opt for other high yield /low cost crops. He asserted that it was imperative that a forum be constituted that would include representatives from all four provinces to ensure uniformity of support price across the country.
Regarding exorbitant increase in fertilizer rates, the Committee was of the view that the government must take stringent measures to curb this since this would adversely affect the road to food sufficiency in the country; which must be the prioritised.
Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam assured the Committee of the Ministry’s support and told the Committee in view of the importance of being food sufficient the Ministry is seeking to develop a strategic wheat reserve that will cater to the needs of the people in challenging times. Regarding increase in fertilizer especially Nitrophos and DAP, he said that these rates were totally dependent on international prices that have soared to 70percent.
The Committee took up the current sugar crisis and stressed the need for evolution of a mechanism to ensure that crushing takes place a specified time; the importance of curbing multi-tiered, white collar crime was emphasized in this regard.
Members were of the view that food security is a directly proportionate to national security and very strong strategy must be employed to address it. It was asserted that seed technology must be enhanced and research institutions must be revitalised. The Committee recommended that in addition to various facets of food security in the country; challenges of farmers must not be ignored.
The Committee recommended real time monitoring of input costs, international prices, competing policies and competing crop value charges.