Marking the United Nations’ World Food Day, land and food security advocates conducted a whole day activity in Quezon City mainly calling for the Marcos government to go away with policies that put not only the livelihood but also the local agricultural sector into further jeopardy.
Advocates said that neoliberal policies failed its promises of cheaper prices and only triggered the bankruptcy of local producers and threatened the country’s food security based on self-sufficiency and self-reliance. “Strengthening local agricultural production, doing away with liberalization policies and provision of support subsidies for local food producers could address the worsening food crisis and hunger in the country” it added.
According to the Amihan peasant women federation which is one of the lead groups advocating food security and sustainability; based on 2021 surveys, 5.3 million Filipinos experienced severe hunger while 48.8 million Filipinos were suffering from moderate to severe hunger. Moreover, among ASEAN the countries, the Philippines has the second highest number of people who cannot afford a healthy meal or 68.6 percent of our population, despite being an agricultural country.
Amihan, along with other land food sustainability adocates have been pushing for the enactment of food self-sufficiency bills filed by the Makabayan bloc in Congress including the HB 1161 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, HB 405 Rice Industry Development Act and the HB 2024 seeking the provision of P15,000 production subsidy for farmers and fishers.
They also expressed its support for the enactment of HB 5504 seeking to exempt basic commodities such as bread, sugar and cooking oil from the 12 percent VAT.
In the same event, youth peasant advocate National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates (NNARA) – Youth organized a bike activity “Padyak Kontra Kagutuman” and an Agroecology Fair at UP Diliman to drum up the call to support local food production and enact a genuine agrarian reform program to resolve the chronic food and agriculture crisis in the country.
“The country, under President and concurrent agriculture secretary Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is celebrating World Food Day today in line with the United Nations. Peasant organizations and food security advocates rightly mark this day as World Hunger Day to drum up the ironic reality that our food producers experience the worst poverty and food insecurity in our country” the group said in a statement.
The activities featured booths from various farmers and advocacy organizations showcasing their organic produce and technology. As an alternative to the existing policy framework in food and agriculture, the Agroecology X network is forwarding a comprehensive 8-point “food system agenda,” for which they are gathering online signatures in a petition found on tinyurl.com/TowardsAFilipinoFoodSystem. Developed through a series of stakeholder workshops beginning last year, the agenda has the following points:
( 1 ) Stop the liberalization and foreign domination on food
( 2 ) Implement genuine land reform
( 3 ) Achieve just prices and wages
( 4 ) Strengthen Filipino agriculture and develop rural and national industries
( 5 ) Fund Filipino food
( 6 ) Ensure sufficient and immediate support in times of calamity
( 7 ) Promote farmer-led research and development
( 8 ) Advance the people’s democratic rights