President of the Hyderabad Chamber of Small Traders and Small Industry Muhammad Farooq Shaikhani has urged the federal government to initiate strict action against the smuggling of essential commodities to avert the issue of food crisis in the country. The crisis of nutrients could create a severe shortage of food not only in Pakistan but globally in the coming years due to the lack of production in major rice and sugar-producing countries, he said in a statement issued on Wednesday. This year, he said the rice production was at the lowest level as compared to the last twenty years, adding that rice was being consumed in Asian countries the most in the world, which is 90 per cent of the global production. “This time, the production of rice has decreased by nine million tonnes which is the highest since 2003-2004,” he added. He claimed that minimum production of essential commodities could not only create a food crisis but also affect more than three and a half billion people in the world. Quoting the statistics of concerned organizations of the United Nations, he said eight million children were suffering from severe malnutrition, which he said, was “the most deadly type of malnutrition”. According to a BBC report, he said a huge quantity of sugar was being transported from Quetta almost every other day to Afghanistan through illegal routes. The smuggling of food items was the main reason for the price hike in Pakistan, he opined and added that it could also intensify the food crisis in the country. The HCSTSI President urged the prime minister and federal ministers concerned to impose a ban on the export of commodities like other countries with immediate effect and also initiate action to stop smuggling the same to other countries including Afghanistan.