1.4 Food Security
Food security can be broadly divided into four components: - Availability of food in terms of sufficient quantity available through domestic production or imports
- Access to adequate resources given the socio-political and economic arrangements of the community
- Utilization refers to the body’s ability to make use of the nutrients provided. This requires clean water sanitation and health care
- Stability includes an all-time access and utilization of food without any fear of losing it due to any shock (natural calamity, economic shock). This component points out to sustainability of food in an area.
Wheat along with other crops like maize and barley is produced in most of the rural mouzas of district Quetta. Besides, vegetables and fruits are also produced in the district. As the below table shows, wheat is cropped in 99% of the mouzas. Nonetheless, overall crop based food production is insufficient in Quetta district.
Food availability does not depend on the obtainability of wheat only but also depends on other cereals like maize etc. As far as cereal food is concerned, this district is facing deficit. In addition to cereals, animal based food (meat, milk, milk products) availability is also important for total food availability. But the animal based food production is also less than the requirement in this district24. Combining both the crop based and animal based food self-sufficiency, Quetta is facing shortage in food production in the district25. Although the domestic production of food grains in this district is not sufficient, being the provincial capital, the economic and trade activities of the district ensure availability of food grains through imports from other areas.
Per capita availability of food items alone is not a reliable indicator of food security. If the available food is socio-economically not accessible to the masses, it cannot make a society food secure. The income level of the households reflects access to food and food poverty. Average monthly income of a household (HH) in this district is between Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 20,000/-, which is considered as low income26.
Child dependency (ratio between children and household members in economically active age group) is one of the limiting factors in meeting the daily needs of households and is an important indicator to measure access to food. The increased dependency ratio enhances the spending of the household on child care and food, which results in per capita reduction of socio-economic access to food. Child dependency ratio is very high in this district. The share of household expenditures on food is 62.7% of the total income in Balochistan which shows the higher food expenditures of households.
The table below shows physical access to food in district Quetta by providing distances of mouzas from the wholesale markets. Average distance from the fruit and vegetable market of a mouza is 19 kilometers whereas the distance from the grain market is 20 kilometers. Such long distances impede access to food.