Islamabad: Syed Fakhar Imam, Minister for National Food Security and Research, disclosed that Pakistan has planned certain steps to eradicate poverty and hunger, including investing in green and sustainable agricultural infrastructure to shorten value chains.

Imam, speaking at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) 42nd Conference, said that despite financial constraints during the pandemic, Pakistan had delivered a $8 billion relief package to the poorest sectors of society to ensure social safety.

The relief package, he said, offers emergency cash support to the poorest households and other vulnerable populations, such as women and children.

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Agriculture, according to the minister, is crucial to Pakistan’s economy, contributing 19.3 percent to GDP, employing 35 percent of the country’s workforce, and contributing to the growth of other sectors.

Imam went on to say that the farm sector’s strong expansion boosted domestic demand for better food, industrial goods, and raw material for agro-based companies.

Furthermore, the minister emphasized that the country’s efforts to encourage agriculture were critical to a thriving rural economy and enhanced food security.

He noted that the prevalence of undernourishment in Pakistan was believed to be over 21% at the national level, with regional differences, and that the high prevalence of undernourishment was more than a public health issue, but also a severe impediment to the country’s economic progress.

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He told the forum that Prime Minister Imran Khan proposed the “Global Initiative on Debt Relief” last April in response to the recession caused by the Covid-19 crisis and that the premier also proposed several measures for generating early financing to help developing countries recover from the crisis at a special session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Imam stated that the country intended to fund infrastructures such as highways, food storage facilities, regional electricity grids, and markets, all of which would help to enhance food systems and increase food and nutrition security.

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