On the basis of findings of a
survey conducted by it, the WFP said that during the year ended March, the
number of people deemed "food insecure" had risen 28 per cent to 77 million
from 60 million in the previous year.
The WFP identified those
consuming less than 2350 calories per day as being below the food security
Sahib Haq, one of the WFO
officials who conducted the survey, said that food prices rose at least 35 per
cent in the past year compared with an 18 per cent rise in minimum wages.
"There is a very big gap between
the increase in prices and increase in wages ... the purchasing power of the
poor has gone down by almost 50 per cent. There will be a big crisis," The News
quoted Haq as saying.
The price of wheat flour in
January was between 24-25 rupees (38 US cents) per kg in three of Pakistan's
four provinces, compared with 15 rupees per kg in January 2007, the WFP said.
Prices have since moderated to
around 17 rupees but are expected to shoot up 40 per cent or more in the coming
months, according to grain industry officials.
Pakistan consumes about 22
million tonnes of wheat a year.
Similarly, prices of rice,
vegetables and cooking oil have also risen sharply, and the economic hardships
faced by ordinary people played a big part in an election in February that
resulted in President Pervez Musharraf's political allies being thrown out of
The consumer price index, a key indicator of
inflation, rose 11.25 per cent in February from a year ago, mainly due to food