As Flood Waters Rise, Food Prices Soar in Pakistan

As of this morning, the UN has received about 20% of its $459 million flash appeal. But it does seem as if funds are coming in at a rapid clip.  Norway announced it is giving $16 million to UN -led relief efforts. The Netherlands announced a 2 million euro pledge.  Meanwhile Ban Ki Moon and John Kerry–who shephearded multi-billlion dollar aid package through congress last year.

In the midst of an emergency like this, the first priority is obviously to rescue people and provide them food, water and rudimentary shelter.  But even while emergency rescue efforts are underway, it is important to keep in mind some of the long term impacts of this crisis.  One of this is the devastation of Pakistan’s agriculture sector.  This is the lifeblood of the Pakistani economy–and it has taken a very big hit.  From Reuters:


About 500,000 tonnes of wheat stocked with farmers has been lost. Sugar output will also be hit by a similar amount, according to initial estimates. Up to 2 million bales of cotton, out of targetted output of 14 million bales, had been lost, industry officials said. That will mean the textile sector, which accounts for about 60 percent of exports, will have to import more cotton to feed mills. With higher transport costs and food shortages, inflation, and the public anger that will spark, is a major worry. The consumer price index came in at 12.34 year-on-year in July and will head higher.

The World Bank estimates that Pakistan has already lost $1 billion worth of crops.  And as the Dawn reports, people are feeling the pinch as food prices are soaring.

The prices of basic items such as tomatoes, onions, potatoes and squash have in some cases quadrupled in recent days, putting them out of reach for many Pakistanis who struggled to get by even before the floods hit.

”It is like a fire erupted in the market,” said Mohammad Siddiq as he purchased vegetables in the city of Lahore. ”Floods and rains have made these things unaffordable.”

Ramadan began this week–usually a time for feasts and celebration.  Even for those not directly affected by the flooding, being priced out of your meal is bound to create resentment and misery