ISLAMABAD – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a commitment by the newly created Pakistan Ministry of Food Security and Research (MFSR) to donate annually up to 500,000 metric tons of wheat to WFP to combat malnutrition and improve food security among vulnerable groups across the country.
“This in-kind donation is the largest in recent years by any country where WFP has operations,” said WFP Pakistan Country Director Jean-Luc Siblot. “It shows a strong commitment by the Government of Pakistan to address the issues of food security and malnutrition and will encourage the international donor community to step up its support.”
The donation, valued at US$144 million, was announced in a Letter of Intent signed today by the ministry and WFP at the end of a six-day food security workshop attended by government representatives, donors, WFP, the Food and Agricultural Organization and NGOs including Oxfam and the Sustainable Development Policy Institute.
Speaking today in Islamabad at the closing session of the workshop, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the next federal budget would make provisions for school feeding in the most food insecure districts of the country and nutrition programmes for children under five years old and for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.
“My priority will be ensuring food security for women and children,” the Prime Minister said.
Under the agreement, some 500,000 mt of wheat will be converted to nutritious food commodities to be used to combat hunger and undernutrition among the most vulnerable sections of society. Prioritizing the most food insecure districts, specialized nutritious food will be distributed to some six million malnourished children, pregnant women and primary school children.
These specialized commodities will include mineral and vitamin fortified wheat flour, high energy biscuits and fortified pastes for the treatment and prevention of malnutrition among infants and young children, all of which will be produced in Pakistan.
WFP’s partnership with the Government of Pakistan falls under the National Zero Hunger Programme, within which the Government will work with UN agencies and donors and draw on the experiences of other countries to eradicate hunger and malnutrition.
“Pakistan has the means and capacity to solve the hunger problem” said Siblot, “and this contribution to WFP is a clear signal of their determination and leadership.”