Manila Bulletin

Gov’t launches food policy against hunger

- By ARGYLL CYRUS B. GEDUCOS

The public can expect the government to step up its efforts in addressing hunger with the launch of the National Food Policy to achieve zero hunger during the World Food Day today, October 16, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.

In an interview with Ma

nila Bulletin, Nograles, who chairs the Inter-Agency Task Force on Zero Hunger, said that the National Food Policy will contain the government’s action plan or roadmap on how the country will achieve zero hunger by 2030.

Goal 2 of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainabl­e Developmen­t is to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainabl­e agricultur­e.

“Kailangan po talaga nating mas lalong itulak ang mga programa ng gobyerno para pataasin at suportahan ang produksyon ng ating mga farmers at fisherfolk (We really need to push for government programs that will increase and support the production of our farmers and fisherfolk),” he said.

According to Nograles, the government’s National Food Policy aims to ensure food security in the country by supporting farmers and fisherfolk through increasing their productivi­ty and income.

“Pag maraming food and agricultur­al products mas ma-e-ensure natin ang food prices natin at hindi tayo mauubusan ng pagkain (The more food and agricultur­al products we have, the more we can ensure food prices and that we will never run out of food),” he said.

The new policy will likewise ensure that food will not just be available but also accessible by bringing agricultur­al products to the markets.

The Palace official also said the government aims to take a closer look at the nutritiona­l intake of vulnerable people – the poor, jobless, children, indigenous peoples, and pregnant women – to end all forms of malnutriti­on.

After ensuring that there is enough accessible food, Nograles said that the government will have to make sure that the system in place will be sustainabl­e especially at the time of “disruption­s” like natural disasters, calamities, climate change, and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Dapat mayroon ding mechanisms in place ang government (The government should have mechanisms in place) to ensure that whatever disruption happens, agad tumutugon ang gobyerno para hindi ma-threaten ang food security ng ating mga kababayan (the government can immediatel­y address the problem so our food security will not be threatened),” he said.

However, Nograles said all of the government’s plans will not be achieved if people will not cooperate.

“COVID-19 has taught us that government can only do so much. At the end of the day, kailangan din po natin ng (we need the) participat­ion, cooperatio­n, and support of people,” he said.

According to Nograles, the problem of hunger worldwide can worsen due to the COVID19 pandemic, citing an estimate by the United Nations that the number of people experienci­ng hunger worldwide can skyrocket from 690 million to 820 million.

“That is the challenge that we are facing right now and even post-COVID, even with the vaccine, ang next nating (our next) challenge will be the problem of hunger,” he said.

In the Philippine­s, a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that 7.6 million Filipinos said they have experience­d hunger during the pandemic. According to Nograles, they recognize this as a problem.

“We recognize that it’s a problem, we recognize that it’s a challenge,” he said.

“We take that as a challenge and that is also one of the challenges ng aming (of our) task force – to look for programs or solutions to these problems,” he added.

He explained that what their task force did was to map out all ongoing government programs, activities, and projects that have to do with addressing the multifacet­ed problem of hunger.

“One of the gaps that we were able to find was yung (the) feeding [program] ng mga (for) stunted and wasted children under two years old; and for the nutritiona­lly at-risk pregnant women,” Nograles said.

The Zero Hunger task force was created in January this year with the issuance of Executive Order No. 101. In creating the task force, President Duterte cited the “need to carefully coordinate, rationaliz­e, monitor and assess the efforts of concerned government agencies and instrument­alities to ensure a whole-of-government approach to eradicatin­g hunger and achieving food security.”

The Task Force is mandated to formulate the National Food Policy, which will outline national priorities based on a comprehens­ive understand­ing of the problems of hunger and related issues. It is also tasked to create a roadmap for achieving zero hunger.

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