Youthink! The World Bank's blog for youth
Syndicate content

Coping with high food prices in Pakistan

In the last three or four years, there has been a sharp rise in food prices in Gujrat, Pakistan, where I live--especially for commonly needed products such as wheat, sugar, vegetables, fruits, and grains.

My neighbors and friends say their incomes can’t keep up with food and oil prices, so they are reducing their daily food intake.  Before this food price spike, they ate three times a day, now it’s twice.

Meat is more expensive than milk and bread. Many people say that now they are not in a position to afford meat twice in a week. People are buying cheaper food rather than expensive nutritious items. One of my friends said she loved to eat salads, but now it's rare to enjoy a salad.  Some poor people are now in extreme trouble, and they can’t pay the school fees of their children.

Even better-off people are cutting back. One of my friends said that before food was so expensive, she considered herself to be part of the middle income class, and now she is in the lower-income category. Most of her income is used to purchase groceries.

My uncle has diabetes, but has stopped his visits to the doctor. He doesn’t have money for medicine. His money is either spent on food, rent or transportation.

My own family no longer goes to restaurants for lunch or dinner as we once did. We don’t have enough money for recreational activities. We are reducing our expenditures on luxuries, such as jewelry, electronics, dining, traveling, and clothes.

Personally, I buy less fruit despite its nutritional value because it is expensive. Now, I grow food in my backyard. This season I grew garlic, coriander, spinach and radishes.

I’m not growing enough food to provide a full meal for a family of seven. There are other grocery items, such as vegetables, I have to purchase from the market. But since vegetables are expensive, I am planning to grow some of my own soon.

Other neighbors are also growing their own food. It helps them become self-sufficient, and to protect themselves against the surge in food prices. Sometimes, if there is extra crop, they share it with their relatives and neighbors.

People can’t live without food. It’s essential.

In times of high food prices, we should eat as simple and nutritious foods as possible. Places that throw away and waste food should be banned, and the consumption of luxurious food items should be discouraged. How are others coping with high food prices? Do you have innovative solutions?

Comments

Submitted by hasnat on
Hi Sidra, Thank you very much for your thoughts on such an interesting topic. For me the solution is straight forward we need to be a way more productive and competitive. Being an economist I see three ways to cope with this. First; increasing the supply, Second; cutting short the demand, and third; raising the income. Let us first talk about the supply side argument; won’t work in the current scenario due to the existence of global demand for the commodities after introduction of WTO (free trade policy). For example, Supply of food items could be enough for Pakistani citizens but as u know, food is exported or smuggled to neighbour countries like Afghanistan etc. So does not matter how better u do with the supply side the problem would remain. I reckon, food will fly outside the country like the ‘capital flight’. Real Problem here is the hole at the bottom of the container. I agree, avoiding wastage of food could fix the problem partly. Turning to demand side argument, yes, it could improve the situation but it is subject to some limitations as well. For example, if you decide to buy less you are paying off in the form of deterioration in the quality of life; that’s a big price, you know. Furthermore, Demand of necessities is way more inelastic and you can't cut it short easily, especially, below a minimum level that is pre-requisite for survival. So I am not very hopeful on this as well. The last thing is the income argument; off course we could improve the situation raising the level of income (I agree, it’s the supply side of economy as well). Here I am strictly talking about the real income not the nominal money (see Qantity theory of money). The only way to increase the real income is to work hard, work better, set the targets, do innovations, produce more goods and services etc.) I believe it would be not less than bullshit if we are not ready to contribute any-thing and still wait for the Mano Salwa to come. I would say the real cause is idleness of people. For example, labour force participation, especially, the female labour force participation is the lowest in Pakistan among the whole set of South Asian countries. Males don’t work as well. One member of the family would work and rest of all would simply waste their time. It is acceptable if Pakistan stays like a highly closed economy as it was before the globalisation thing. Now we have entered into an arena of global economics where we need to be competitive globally if we are after the stuff that is demanded globally. Only way to be a competitive buyer is to be a competitive worker. To be a competitive buyer we have to say good bye to this approach of sitting idle. Sidra I am sorry for not being too much elaborative in my discussion due to the time constraint. But its an interesting topic and I would love to talk any further in the matter.

Submitted by IQra have on
The only solution I think is in short run "the need is to cut income spending on food and shifts it to education especially technical education which is not the meter of much consideration in Pakistan. This expenditure cut will give you long term benefit and a huge increment in income than expensive food will not be an issue. Another thing which can be done is to lower the effect of environmental change on agriculture, as increased temperature higher the land price which will lower the net revenue of farmer and in turn they have only solution, is to "RAISE THE PRICE". So in Pakistan the need is to formulate a comprehensive policy which will direct the former the way to save their crop from climate change in order to have cheap food in Pakistan.

Submitted by iqra on
The only solution I think is in short run "the need is to cut income spending on food and shifts it to education especially technical education which is not the meter of much consideration in Pakistan. This expenditure cut will give you long term benefit and a huge increment in income than expensive food will not be an issue. Another thing which can be done is to lower the effect of environmental change on agriculture, as increased temperature higher the land price which will lower the net revenue of farmer and in turn they have only solution, is to "RAISE THE PRICE". So in Pakistan the need is to formulate a comprehensive policy which will direct the former the way to save their crop from climate change in order to have cheap food in Pakistan.

Submitted by shamakhan on
Real fact is that we all are not sincere with not only our self nor our country. In other countries , if the price of anything rise not according to rule and regulation of government then they come out on roads and protest against it. our silence make them brave to what they want to do they can. Problem with our nation is that they have a great stamina to bear every thing so ...........

Submitted by Izzy on
Hi Sidra, Great blog - really honest and well-written. Unfortunately I live in one of those places where people and supermarkets throw away huge amounts of food all the time, perfectly good food, and it makes me quite angry. There are things that some of us here are trying to do though, like http://foodcycle.org.uk/ and there's been a big campaign against food waste - http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/. I also think people in the West could really help the situation by eating less meat, which takes so much more land, water and energy to produce, and which many people here it more of than is healthy. I'm also worried that climate change could make growing enough food even more difficult, and especially doing it without cutting down lots of forests to create more farmland - there's a good video about this at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjtIl5B1zXI&feature=youtu.be if you're interested. Anyway I hope the food prices come down soon! Best wishes, Izzy

haha, your article reminds me of soaring food price in china. I remember last year, the garlic price is 1 RMB per garlic, which is unbelievable for us. In the past the garlic price usually is 0.1 RMB per garlic. So common people couldn't understand this even if we can afford it.

Add new comment