Let’s plant your own food


As the population globally doubled in last 47 years from 3.9 billion in 1973 to around 7.8 billion today, adding the last billion in just 12 years to the huge total, so was the need to feed the people with increasingly depleting resources on hands. Soon there was dearth in many areas, food shortages started occurring and proper management, dispatch and distribution became significant issues to rule out unwanted hunger from the nations. The food shortages became an important issue even in the developed countries like USA, which forced many people and NGOs to start working to reduce the food unavailability.
Shamefully, it seems like wasting food is in the genes of those who may afford it. The Sub Continental trend of piling up one’s plates at different occasions, even if one don’t have the hunger to eat it all and ultimately wasting it is a very common sight at wedding programs. On the other hand, millions go to sleep hungry on the streets daily.
In 2015, a Chinese report claimed that 18 million tons of food a year was wasted which could have relieved from 30 to 50 million people of their hunger! After mass flooding across China destroying food crops this year, Chinese president, Xi Jinping, declared ‘food wastage’ to be the biggest enemy of their country. Many local associations and authorities came up with strategies to shoulder their president’s stance. Steps like ‘Operation Empty Plate’ and ‘N-1 Ordering’ became famous where a group was made to order one dish less than the number of diners. Similarly options like smaller, half sized portions on your plate and to-go boxes for the left-over were initiated.
The on-going global COVID-19 pandemic further increased the plight of the people with imposing lockdown becoming a hurdle to reach the basic necessities like water, milk, eggs, fruit and vegetables even. While people were allowed to make purchases in certain localities on a specific day or at a specific time, their buying capacity, however, was also deeply bruised with the prevalence of joblessness and closure of industry. People on daily wages were hurt the most. Again, many NGOs stepped in and Governments announced survival packages throughout the globe. However, evencountries like USA and Germany accepted that the packages were ‘not enough’! It is only understandable how countries like Pakistan with one of the highest population, decreased resources, joblessness and lack of system and political will would have fare. The work of different NGOs like Al-Khidmat, JDC, Saylani, Chhipa and many others throughout the pandemic was commendable. However, the magnitude of the struggle was unmatchable. Even those who could afford were made to stand in queues as shortages of commodities occurred. From tomatoes and onions to dairy products, and from wheat or sugar to eggs and oil; there was a significant increase in overall prices. Items like garlic, ginger and spices sky-rocketed which are, otherwise, an integral part of any local meal. Due to lack of transportation, low quality fruits and vegetables at steep prices started finding their way in a commodity deprived market, where buyers had no choice but to make their purchases.
In such circumstances, a very interesting remedy at a micro level, being adopted quickly by many around is opting and growing home grown food throughout the World. In lock-down, not only gardening provided for good, healthy family activity but it pay dividends in form of organic food produce and mental relaxation while also engaging the children who are experiencing uncontrollable screen-time these days. Gardening as a hobby, also ensure development of tolerance and nurturing attitude within the children and family members who calmly witness this natural process of a seed turning into a seedling, then a sapling and later into a plant producing bounties, when cared for properly.
It was only imminent that BBC reported that in England this war-time hobby is back and in fashion while the gardening was considered as one of the most preferred family hobbies in almost every other country throughout the lockdown which may continue to sustain. The agricultural country like Pakistan was also not left behind in this new found love for nature. In Karachi, which is hardly renowned for any agricultural products, people started cultivating plants as a pastime to achieve a number of benefits. One of the home-based, organic gardening brands working in Karachi going with the name ‘DocTree- Organic, Healthy Kitchen Gardening’ being run by a team including Medical Doctors started to promote this idea of Gardening as a hobby within their vicinity. “We are promoting the idea that in limited spaces and resources you can not only grow plants and beautify your surrounds with ornamental decorative plants, but cultivate organic food for yourself and your family as well, even here in Karachi. The taste of the home-grown organic fruits and vegetables is far better than the ones you purchase from the sellers. Even if you want to sell your produce, the organic food globally fetches more prices comparatively” shared one member of the DocTree team. They claimed gardening to be one of the most soothing pastimes due to its proximity to nature and being almost equivalent to looking after a pet when it comes to reducing anxiety and depression. They recommended growing one’s own food and trying to keep it organic and chemical free.
With burden of multiple issues, thank to decades of negligence on the local, provincial and federal governments; it is hardly imaginable that they may ever focus on the issues of proper and organic food management other than maybe bringing wheat and sugar mafia to justice or controlling food commodities price to control with legal implications to sellers or importing food on a temporary basis. In such conditions, it is important for every citizen to grow their own crops, replacing whole or part of your daily food requirement with the harvest from one’s own produce. It will definitely be a win-win situation for your kitchen, health concerns and beautification, while playing our part in shouldering the overall food burden in the country. The concept for this year’s World Food Day also trumpeted the same notion with their theme for 2020 being, “Grow, nourish, sustain. Together. Our actions are our future.”

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