DSWD, DA tie up on food stamp urged

June 5, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 531 views

A lawmaker is urging the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to integrate its proposed food stamps program with the efforts of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to purchase and market domestic farm produce.

According to Albay Representative Joey SAlceda, chairman of the House committee on ways and means, farmers should be given special stamps, as they are considered the poorest sector.

“Food stamps, as envisioned and implemented in other countries, are really agricultural programs. They aim to bridge rural surpluses with food-poor urban communities. That way, we address both urban poverty and rural poverty,” Salceda said.

The solon said that around 30 percent of farmers are poor and.

“So, if you want to make this program sustainable, you link it with boosting farmer incomes,” Salceda added.

Salceda is commenting on the food stamp program proposed by the DSWD, which has so far met some opposition from economic managers due to costs.

“As it was originally implemented in the US, where the food stamp program is most prevalent and arguably most successful, you can have a specific amount for general food items, and you can have a special stamp or voucher for surplus produce,” he said.

“What the farmers can get for surplus produce are food stamps for the general program. So, you help solve their food insecurity issues. You take out the surplus, helping manage prices. And you provide free surplus food to those who need it. It’s a great synergy,” Salceda added.

Meanwhile, Salceda said that the government should consider using revenues from the sweetened beverage tax to fund the food stamp program.

“The TRAIN law, which introduced sweetened beverage taxes, earmarks around 30 percent of its revenues to social measures, including, very specifically, “Social mitigating measures and investments in: (i) education, (ii) health, targeted nutrition, and anti-hunger programs for mothers, infants, and young children,” he said.

“We were also not able to earmark programs for sugar farmers under the law. And we should have. That was part of the deal. So, I strongly suggest that if we are going to do this, let’s pilot it for poor sugar farmers,” Salceda added.

Earlier, the economic managers called for the passage of increases in the sweetened beverage taxes.