Multi-sectoral group calls on President Duterte to address PH food emergency

Press release - September 19, 2017
Manila, Philippines - Calling on President Rodrigo R. Duterte to urgently address the country’s worsening “food emergency” situation, a multi-sectoral group, composed of representatives from farmers, fisherfolk, consumers, women, youth, environmental and health groups, trooped to Malacañang today to submit a proposed Executive Order (EO) calling for the creation of a Cabinet Food Cluster to respond to the crisis.

The proposed EO is a result of a series of dialogues, consultations, workshops and discussion from various groups and individuals initiated by Greenpeace along with the Peoples Food Movement (PFM) [1] and the League of Organic Agriculture Municipalities and Cities (LOAMC) [2].

“Our groups have come together to remind the President of his promise to provide available and affordable food for the Filipino people,” said Amalie Obusan, Country Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia for the Philippines.  “The current farming system depletes our soils and poisons our water and air because of the extensive use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and anti-biotics. It harms the very environment that supports our food production. We cannot sit in the sidelines and wait, we have to push for a shift to a sustainable and ecological food system right away.”

Despite being an agriculture country, hunger continues to be a top development challenge for the Philippines. According to findings from the Social Weather Station’s (SWS) survey from the fourth quarter of 2016, both Moderate Hunger and Severe Hunger rose in the country, and that hunger in general is rising in all geographic areas [3].  Lamentably, fishers and farmers consistently post the highest poverty incidences among the basic sectors of the country [4]. 

“It is ironic that the country’s policies are favoring more corporate food production, while there are more small holder farmers  who contribute to producing 50-80% of world food supply [5], and they are going hungry,” Obusan added.

Myrna Jimenez of gender and development advocacy group Sarilaya, said that there are five unsustainable agricultural practices that historically have led to hunger and poverty in the country: “Women food producers directly attribute poverty, food scarcity, nutrition insecurity and environment degradation to five leading causes: first is policy failure, especially on subsidies and land use; second, rural inequalities due to inadequate rural investments; third, resource imbalance when poor communities are least equipped to meet their own needs; fourth, inappropriate technologies to boost production that are safe as well as affordable; and fifth, unjust trade relations to secure fair share.”

While recognizing that there are existing policies and programs on food, nutrition, and agriculture, the groups point out that these policies and programs are lodged within the different government agencies, and that the formation of a food cluster in the President’s Cabinet is needed to bring a unified policy framework which will result to greater coherence, convergence and synergy on the various policies and programs of the government on food. This will ensure not only safe, healthy and nutritious food for Filipinos, but will also safeguard the interests and welfare of the small farmers and fishers who feed the rest of the population.

"I think we have lost our connection to the earth, to our health, and to the food that we eat. Our current generation would mindlessly consume whatever is readily available from convenience stores and fast food restaurants, without knowing what the food exactly is, how it is prepared, and where it comes from. We should be more mindful of the food we're putting into our bodies. We need a shift in our mindset on how we look at food,” said Ryan Bestre, campaigner of the youth and agriculture advocacy group, IAmHampasLupa. 

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Notes to Editors:

[1] The Peoples’ Food Movement is a joined force of groups and individuals who are practitioners, advocates and campaigners of a sustainable food system, and seek to address the current state of the country’s food situation and the lack of coherence, among government offices to address this issue. http://www.peoplesfoodmovement.org.ph/  

[2] http://loamc-ph.org/about-us/  

[3] https://www.sws.org.ph/swsmain/artcldisppage/?artcsyscode=ART-20170124102017

[4] http://www.napc.gov.ph/articles/feature-who-are-poorest-sectors

[5] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X15001217#bb0190; and

     UN FAO, The State of Food and Agriculture, 2014, p. xvi  http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4040e.pdf
 

For more information:

Virginia Benosa Llorin, Food and Ecological Agriculture Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines, , +63-917-822-8793

JP Agcaoili, Communications Manager, Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines
, +63-949-8891334

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