The consequences of the 2022 floods that caused havoc across many areas of Pakistan are longstanding. Satellite images of the flooded regions show that the floodwaters have caused damage to thousands of acres of standing crops. This destruction of crops can have a long-term impact on the entire country’s food supply and if pre-emptive policies are not enacted urgently, the destruction of the crops can pose a major threat to food security. The precarious situation has been taken note of by different organisations; warnings have been issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations of the likelihood of worsening food insecurity due to the negative impact of floods as well as the resultant extremely high prices of basic food items, energy and fuel. International food and agricultural assistance is urgently needed to avoid deterioration of the local food security situation, according to a Special Alert of Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture report issued by the FAO.

Food insecurity was already a problem in the country pre-floods as well, emanating mostly due to an acute water shortage crisis that we are still dealing with, and because of a sharp rise in food and staple prices due to the ongoing flare-up between Russia and Ukraine due to Pakistan being the third-largest importer of wheat from Kyiv. A United Nations Development Programmes National Human Development report, released before the floods, had reported food insecurity in Pakistan to have risen to 38%. The same report has highlighted that stunted and wasted growth rates in children under 5 are 38% and 18% respectively. Moreover, the Global Hunger Index has ranked Pakistan 92 in its 2021 report.

We cannot let an already terrible situation get worse. The inflation rate has also gone above 30%, making it impossible for people to afford basic needs. Some strategies must be devised urgently for the short term to ensure that food remains readily available, at least enough to cover the country’s basic needs. In the long-term, the government must also look into the transformation of the agriculture sector into a technology-based sector that can not only meet food security challenges but also compete in the domestic and international markets.