DA’s food security bid gets boost
Posted date: June 10, 2011
MANILA, June 10 – Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala is bullish a new campaign for sustainable food can help enhance government efforts to unlock smallholder agriculture’s potential for bringing forth nationwide food security amidst climate change, food price rise, declining land productivity and other challenges.
He believes the GROW campaign of international aid organization Oxfam can help generate private sector action that will fast-track grouping of small local farmers into economically productive agricultural associations.
”Government will have the private sector as partner in such initiative,” he said Friday on the side of GROW’s Philippine launch in Quezon City.
He believes such partnership is timely, noting DA is mapping out a broad-based strategy for helping small farmers nationwide.
GROW advocates the need for a new approach to producing, sharing and managing food and other natural resources worldwide.
Oxfam came up with such campaign as this organization reported the existing global food system is already failing and taking a toll particularly on the poor.
Aside from discriminating against impoverished people, Oxfam said such system compromises the next generation’s ability to produce its own food.
”The food problem will continue — we have to get hold of this whole system,” Oxfam Great Britain Chief Executive Officer Dame Barbara Stocking said on the launching.
Such problem can be overwhelming in the Philippines which managed to achieve 81 percent food self-sufficiency only but where over 90 million mouths must be fed daily and some two million people are added to the population annually, Oxfam noted.
The country’s vulnerability to food price surges and declining net primary productivity across some 13 million hectares of land nationwide exacerbates the challenge to ensure food security, Oxfam continued.
Alcala assured government remains focused on its food security bid despite such challenges.
”In the Philippines, we’d like to turn hard challenges into opportunities,” he said.
He reported government continues undertaking food security measures, including organizing the country’s small farmers into productive groups.
Such measures also include coordinating with local government units on agricultural and fisheries production in respective areas of jurisdiction.
He said DA is likewise implementing its corn program to help ease the pressure on rice, a staple grain in the Philippines.
DA also continues promoting use of rice extenders like root crops so there can be lesser demand for the staple grain, he noted.
Stakeholders' concerned move to protect local rice production will augur well for boosting government’s food security bid.
Such move includes extending the country’s rice quantitative restriction (QR) that is due to expire in 2012.
The QR enables government to protect local farmers by limiting volume of rice that the country can import annually so possible entry of cheap shipments from abroad can be prevented.
Rice Watch and Action Network convenor Jessica Reyes-Cantos noted the QR's extension, subject of a just-passed resolution, will have an impact on government’s food sufficiency targets.
Sufficiency in food “is really the way to go,” she said.
Alcala said DA will study the resolution and reach soon a stand on the matter.
Earlier this year, reports surfaced government is mulling possibly petitioning World Trade Organization about extending the QR which the country secured until next year in exchange for hiking its rice minimum access volume and reducing tariffs on the grain.
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