Prime Minister Imran Khan sees a grim picture for the future if the world does not act together to deal with the global economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. The Prime Minister, in his virtual address to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), reminded the world that some 600 million people suffer from hunger and that 100 million will be pushed into poverty due to the impact of the pandemic on their lives. More worryingly, some estimates put the numbers even higher.
IFAD is a United Nations agency that finances several types of projects related to agriculture. Although much smaller than other international financial institutions, its work is essential in addressing many of the root causes of food insecurity. This is why, while some may find the PM’s comment “we will perish or survive together” a bit dramatic, it is a sentiment that needs to be expressed. This is because, as we have seen, poverty and civil unrest in one country can destabilize an entire region.
Global agriculture was already under threat from climate change, overexploitation, war and government mismanagement. Throwing Covid-19 into the mix made everything else go wrong. Prime Minister Imran noted that the crisis is such that military and economic adversaries must unite to solve the problems of agriculture for the benefit of their own people and the peoples of the world. This ties in with his speeches at various international forums since the start of the pandemic, where he called for more debt relief and assistance from richer countries to prevent the developing world from descending into an inexorable spiral. .
In his address to IFAD, the Prime Minister launched an ambitious five-point agricultural development agenda for the world which, in another year, would seem easily acceptable to most countries. But his warning that developing countries need $ 4.3 trillion to recover from the pandemic and meet the Sustainable Development Goals must also be read with another report released this week that says global public debt has increased by $ 11 trillion last year. Even rich countries do not have the fiscal space to help the poor without risking their own stability. On that note, it would appear that his prediction of “woe and sadness” was in fact underestimated.
Posted in The Express Tribune on February 19, 2021.
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