Long queues at pantries belie Dept. of Agri’s food security claims

What good is the Department of Agriculture’s series of food security summit if it won’t squarely address the hunger and food insecurity problem experienced by Filipinos? The people are food insecure and hungry — that is the stark reality reflected in the hundreds of community pantries that have sprung in a matter of days.

Hundreds or even thousands of people lining up at community pantries reveal the state of our severe food insecurity. Gutom ang mamamayan. Many have no or very little access to food because of joblessness and displacement worsened by the pandemic.

The DA is always harping — “There is enough food.” At the start of the April ECQ, the DA said inventory and projections point that food supply situation remains on the optimistic side. True enough, there is available food supply. If the ordinary masses can still afford to buy food is an entirely different question.

“The DA and the government must realize that it is not enough to have food supply available in the markets. Totoong may gulay, manok, karne at isda pa sa mga palengke. Pero kaya bang bilhin ng masa? The more pertinent issue is that our people cannot afford to buy nutritious food anymore. Hence, the long line of hopefuls at the pantries,” according to Danilo Ramos, chairperson of KMP.

“Ang lohika ng DA, basta may suplay ng pagkain ay ayos na. Kahit pa imported na karne ng baboy at iba pang produkto, papayagan para lang matiyak daw na may suplay ang bansa,” the KMP leader said, referring to DA’s stubborn position on the increase in MAV of pork products. Pork MAV will increase to 404,210 MT from 54,210 MT or an additional 350,000 MT. Hog industry players and even legislators assert that the country is only short of more than 150,000 MT of pork for consumption.

As the DA prepares to sponsor a food security summit next month, KMP said the agriculture department and Secretary William Dar must be sensitive and responsive to the needs and demands of Filipinos for genuine food security. We cannot let the Food Security Summit become an echo chamber of neoliberal policies that will only worsen national hunger and food insecurity. We cannot let importation be the order of the day for the Food Security Summit.

The tall order for the Food Security Summit is to find ways and means to strengthen the local food production and the empowerment of local food producers. Kung puro importasyon ang bukambibig ng DA at ni Secretary Dar, mas matinding gutom ang aabutin ng mamamayan.

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