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A workshop on Urban food Security and Food Marketing in Lahore was held at Town Hall, Lahore on the 10 June 1999. It was organised by The Metropolitan Corporation, Lahore and the Livestock Products Marketing and Grading Department (Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, Government of Pakistan), under the auspices of the Food Supply and Distribution to Cities initiatives of the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). The workshop programme is contained in annex 1.

The workshop was attended by about fifty participants, from different Federal and Provincial Governments institutions and Metropolitan/Municipal Corporations of Lahore and Gujranwala. The list of participants is in annex-2.

Mr. Olivio Argenti, Focal Point for FAO's initiatives on Food Supply and Distribution to Cities, presented the key note address. His intervention is summarised in the Introduction: Urban Food security and Food Marketing. A challenge to City and Local Authorities.

He also mentioned that FAO's technical assistance is available, subject to adequate funding, to City and Municipal Authorities to improve the efficiency of food supply and distribution systems and in protecting urban food security, as well as promoting technical collaboration between twinned cities.

Mr. Khwaja Ahmed Hassaan, Lord Mayor, Metropolitan Corporation Lahore (MCL) mentioned that few activities have been initiated in Lahore for improving the supply of food to Lahore under acceptable hygienic conditions. These included the initiative for construction of the slaughter house, milk pasteurizing plants and establishment of food testing laboratories. He recognised, however, that the issues at stake are complex and required appropriate attention. He consequently stressed the need to strengthen the technical capacity of the staff of MCL for more technically sound decisions on urban food security and food marketing matters. The Lord Mayor stressed the urgency to count with accurate studies of food supply and distribution systems to Lahore with a view to identify current and anticipated constraints.

The chief guest, Mr. Jahangir Khan Tareen, Chairman of the Chief Minister's Task Force on Agriculture (Punjab), said that the Chief Ministerand himself will look with great interest at implementing plans and programmes proposals aimed at improving food supply to Lahore. He stressed the specific need to develop peri-urban agriculture to improve the food supply to Lahore.

Plenary discussions - lead by Mr. O. Argenti, FAO assisted by Mr. M. Iqbal, UNDP-Quetta - touched upon a large number of interrelated aspects, which are summarised below.

Summary of Workshop Discussions and Recommendations

Pakistan is a large country of 145 million people having an average per capita income of about US$ 500. Lahore is the second largest city with an official population estimated at 5.7 million growing at an annual rate of 4.5 percent. According to unofficial sources, Lahore has a population of 7.5 million, growing at a rate greater than 10 percent per annum. Thus, the population of Lahore is expected to double in 7-8 years time. Such a high growth rate is due to high birth rate (around 2.8 percent) and an alarmingly high rate of rural migration to Lahore. As a result, the number of Kachi Abadis (slum areas) is fast increasing and the current level of poverty[1] in Lahore, estimated at 50 percent, is expected to grow further.

Food prices are very high and unstable for the poor in Lahore[2]. The transport costs are high. The marketing margin ranges from 30-100 percent for cereals, pulses, vegetables and dairy and livestock products. The marketing margins are equally shared between costs and profits. No food is grown within urban areas. Almost all poultry meat, less than 50 percent of goat meat and 20 percent of vegetables come from peri-urban areas of Lahore. The remainder comes from distant rural areas.

The city is growing with only limited town planning and management, resulting in inadequate infrastructure and facilities. This is particularly so for transportation and food marketing facilities. There is no wholesale market of cereals and pulses in the city. Out of the three fruit and vegetable wholesale markets, which were developed at least 20 years back, one has never functioned, while the second is functioning only partly. The only functioning wholesale market, that in Badami Bagh, is facing a serious congestion problem due to the high number of lorries as well as poor parking, berthing, storage, drainage water and sanitation facilities. Access roads to wholesale markets are in bad conditions causing traffic congestion and delays in transportation of marketed perishable items. This situation, compounded by inadequate packaging practices, results in poor hygiene and high food losses.

The lack of implementation of existing laws exacerbates the problems. Services and facilities being provided by market committees are insufficient for proper grading, packing and storage of food items. These agencies spend only a little percentage of their earnings on the provision of required facilities. The high cost of land and non-provision of funds for development of markets by local government will have a further negative impact. Current laws and regulations do not attract private investments.

The Market Committee Act, which governs wholesale and retail market activities, was promulgated in 1939 and has become outdated to adequately address the current food problems to ensure the supply of safe food, under hygienic conditions, to the urban masses. Out of about 20 million litres of milk being supplied to Lahore daily, only 3.5 million litres are pasteurized. The remainder is often adulterated and the Metropolitan Corporation Lahore (MCL) is unable to control this situation. The law on food hygiene is also an old one and does not properly penalise the adulterators.

The heavy and slow moving traffic has made Lahore very polluted and a difficult city in which to live. Multiple taxation on different food items to the city makes food expensive. Involvement of a number of agencies for licensing and regulating the food trade, without adequate coordination, makes the retail level food tradea difficult business. Consumersare not aware of their rights nor of the importance of obtaining hygienically safe food. This leads to high rate of occurrence of diet related diseases. The inadequate management of market waste (both organic and inorganic) is an additional source of an unhealthy environment.

All these factors have led to deterioration of an already inefficient food supply and distribution system in the Lahore Metropolis. The Metropolitan Corporation Lahore (MCL) is building a new slaughterhouse and a milk pasteurising plant near Lahore which are expected to be functional in 2001. However, there seems to be insufficient coordination between MCL with other Government institutions: Food, Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Health of the provincial Government of the Punjab.

The city of Lahore also needs to develop an efficient and comprehensive food retail system, to cater for the needs of its expanding population. Such a system should accommodate the large number of informal street vendors and promote micro food retail enterprises, thus creating job opportunities. Similarly, with respect to meeting value-added food needs. Micro food processing enterprises, which need to be stimulated, will generate income opportunities particularly for women.

At the rural level either no or less farm to market roads exist. The transportation costs for the perishable commodity range from 10 percent to 25 percent of the prices received by farmers. This is even higher when there is a glut situation in the market.

The MCL and the Ministry of Agriculture consider it necessary to increase the flow of food products from peri-urban areas (mainly fruits and vegetables, poultry and livestock) and need to define specific strategies and intervention programmes for the development of peri-urban agriculture.

If an effort is not made to sensitise the local decision-makers and enhance their technical skills to identify and address the problems on time, the whole food supply and distribution system may

collapse. This will not only put at risk the survival of the families of a large number of small traders, market carriers and street vendors, whose jobs depend on food marketing, but it will also endanger the food security of the urban masses and the urban poor in particular.

Synthesis of work-group discussions

Participants formed five groups (see list in annex 3) to discuss the following topics:

(1) Whole sale Markets;
(2) Retail Markets;
(3) Food Trade and the Environment;
(4) Legislation, Regulation and Private Investments;
(5) Rural-Urban Linkages.
Each group identified key problems, their expected consequences, and the required interventions. Their findings are summarised below.

Group 1: Wholesale Markets

Key problems


· Wholesale market for food grains does not exist in Lahore.

· Establish a wholesale market for grains.

· Existing wholesale markets for fruits and vegetables have inadequate space and parking for the vehicles, waste disposal, water and sanitation facilities.

· Remove encroachments, organise/regulate vehicular traffic and improve sanitation including solid waste disposal.

· Markets for livestock are insufficient and have inadequate facilities for both traders and animals.

· Expand livestock market and improve facilities both for traders and animals in the existing markets.

Group 2: Retail Markets

Key problems


· The city has inadequate retail markets.

· Proper retail markets need to be developed, which would also accommodate the large number of street vendors.

· Unhygienic conditions of retail markets cause unhealthy environment and health hazards.

· Improve cleanliness, sanitation and hygiene in retail markets.

· Congested retail markets.

· Remove encroachments from retail markets and regulate vehicle parking.

· Processors/wholesalers do not regularly supply the food items to the retailers.

· Improve business norms and ethics thereby socially obliging processors/wholesalers to ensure regular supplies.

· Retailers do not get warranty of the food being supplied to them by processors and wholesalers.

· Formulate/enforce relevant regulations.

· Clearly define role of institutions/agencies, and avoid duplication.

· Interference of different agencies makes the retail level business difficult.

· Rationalise taxation to avoid financial burden on food insecure urban consumer.

· Excessive taxation thereby increasing food prices.

· Absence of laws protecting consumer interests.

· Introduce laws protecting consumer interests, such as, Consumer Protection Act.

Group 3: Food Trade and the Environment

Key problems


· Dumping of garbage and solid waste both in wholesale and retail market places.

· Adequate arrangements for timely disposal of garbage and solid waste.

· Absence of recycling facilities.

· Establish recycling plants.

· Extensive use of wooden crates packing encouraging deforestation.

· Encourage use of cardboard packaging.

· Extensive use of polyethylene packing.

· Encourage use of paper bags and for immediate remedy arrange collection and proper disposal of used polyethylene packing.

· Weak quality control allowing entry of uncleaned and unsorted produce into the market.

· Exercise strict quality control.

Group 4: Legislation, Regulation and Private Investments

Key problems


· Laws and rules are outdated and not commensurate with the present food supply and distribution system.

· Review and revise rules and regulations to make them commensurate with present and future requirements.

· Rules and regulations are not known by majority of the traders, transporters and consumers.

· Create adequate awareness about laws relating to food supply, quality and safety.

· Rules and regulations are not being strictly imposed for ensuring the food quality and safety.

· Strictly enforce food laws.

· Undue harassment by police and other agencies.

· Role of different agencies to be made clear and facilitative for food marketing.

Group 5: Rural-Urban Linkages

Key problems


· Inadequate farm to market roads.

· Develop farm to market roads network.

· Poor crop planning and marketing in response to market demand.

· Improve marketing extension services especially market information to guide market oriented production.

· Lack of processing and storage facilities in production areas.

· Food, especially perishables, transported over long distance to feed urban consumers.

· Develop adequate facilities for primary processing and storage in close vicinity of production areas.

· Urban food supplies not keeping pace with rapidly increasing demand.

· Undertake programmers for the developments of peri urban agriculture.

· Lack of group activities.

· Encourage adoption of improved technologies to enhance food production/supplies and reduce distribution losses.

· Encourage formation of producer and consumer groups and their direct interactions.

[1] The poor are those whose monthly in come is less than Rs. 3,000/-per month.
[2] The prices of food items in Lahore ,as compared to other cities of Punjab, are 5-10% higher.

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