Phl far from achieving food security

Agriculture stakeholders said lawmakers need to revisit the strategic plan for agriculture and rural development to ensure that farmers, fisherfolk, and other agricultural workers, who comprise 40 percent of our labor force, are not left behind.

In a press statement on Monday, Dr. Ronald Edilberto Ona, Dean of the College of Sciences at Palawan State University, said the Philippines has a long way to go toward achieving its food security goals.

“To achieve food security, reduce poverty, and end hunger, the private sector, non-government organizations, people’s organizations, and civil society groups must join the government in this endeavor,” Ona said.

“Truly, no one should be left behind, and everyone should think that poverty, hunger, and food security concern us all,” he added.

Latest data

Citing the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Ona said the agriculture, forestry, and fishery sectors only contribute an average of 20 percent to the Philippine Gross Domestic Product, with an 8.4 percent contribution in the second quarter of the current year.

According to estimates compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the world will need to produce 60 percent more food to feed a population of 9.3 billion by 2050.

“There is a big shortfall between the amount of food the world produces today and the amount needed to feed everyone in 2050,” Ona noted.

Meanwhile, food security group Tugon Kabuhayan convenor Asis Perez emphasized that all industry players are united in the call to once and for all prioritize the country’s agricultural sector.

Food producers

“We would always need our food producers. We fear that if our government does not heed the call, there’ll be more farmers who will stop tilling the land and fishermen who will stop going out to sea,” said the former national director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

Based on The Economist’s 2021 Global Food Security Index, the Philippines ranked 64th of 113 countries in terms of its four dimensions of food security.

Perez said Tugon Kabuhayan is also saddened that food producers remain impoverished despite their hardships and efforts. He said farmers and fishermen are the top two poorest sectors in our country, with 31.6 percent and 26.2 percent poverty incidence percentages, respectively.

He added that some consumers unfairly criticize rice and vegetable farmers for increases in food prices, not knowing that farmers don’t benefit from these increases.

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