Grace Poe

Poe seeks food for the hungry

July 16, 2021 Marlon Purification 353 views

SENATOR Grace Poe called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) to scale up local agricultural production and aim for a dynamic, high-growth sector to alleviate the hunger woes of millions of Filipinos.

“Our people are hungry. There’s something disconcerting about the reality that this is happening in an agricultural country,” Poe said.

The recent Social Weather Stations survey on hunger showed that the number of families that went hungry increased to 4.2 million in May. This is slightly higher than the November 2020 hunger rate polled by the survey firm.

Poe lamented that the country’s farm sector continues to shrink despite the billions allocated to the department and to agriculture-related programs every year.

“The leadership in the department is crucial. When the DA is on the opposite side of local farmers and producers, challenges in the country’s agriculture will only get worse and so will the problem of hunger,” she stressed.

According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the agriculture sector has been contracting for two consecutive quarters, with production decreasing by 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020 and falling again by 3.3 percent in the first quarter of 2021.

The drop in agriculture production is compounded further by the huge number of people without jobs. According to the PSA, 3.73 million had no jobs as of May.

“The lack of access to food among poor Filipinos is on stark display by the long lines in community pantries,” Poe said, adding that unemployment exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for many families to put food on the table.

Increased spending in agriculture can boost yield and sustainable growth for the sector that has been neglected for many years. But Poe reminded that spending should be guarded to ensure that funds are utilized efficiently.

Food security and livelihood are of paramount importance against the specter of hunger among Filipinos, especially amid a pandemic.

“There’s no room for complacency while many of our people sleep on an empty stomach,” Poe added