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Hunger still prevalent in the Philippines – ADB

May 4, 2012 7:31pm
The Philippines still have to address undernourishment, though the country posted a 6 percent decline in poverty over a three-year period, the Asian Development Bank said Friday.
 
The bank noted in its “Food Security and Poverty in Asia and the Pacific” report that the number of poor Filipinos living on $1.25 (around P52.5) a day has declined by 6.19 percent from 2006-2009. 
 
However, the multilateral lender citing a 2011 United Nations report said the general population is suffering from undernourishment.
 
“These findings imply that hunger eradication does not necessarily follow from poverty reduction, suggesting that policies that drive down income poverty alone may not be enough to reduce hunger,” the report read.
 
The Philippines’ main driver of poverty reduction was higher income, while food and non-food prices pushed the poverty rate, the bank noted.
 
“While food insecurity and poverty are closely interrelated, growth alone may not suffice to ensure food security,” it said.
 
The report said that Philippines needs to give its food security initiatives more importance, as it will have a “profound impact on global food consumption” in the future due to its ballooning population.
 
The National Statistics Office estimates that the Philippine population, growing at a rate of 1.9 percent, has reached 92.337 million in 2010 and will likely hit the 100-million mark in 2014.
 
PPP in Agriculture
 
The report projected Southeast Asia’s rice yield to fall by about 50 percent in 2100 relative to 1990 yields.
 
To secure food for Filipinos, ADB said the country needs to provide food safety nets–enhancing agriculture productivity, promoting rural development, supporting agricultural research, and investing in human capital and basic infrastructure.
 
“PPP (public-private partnership) in agriculture is crucial to developing countries,” Agence Française de Développement chief economist Pierre Jacquet said in the ADB forum “Seven Billion and growing: How will the World feed itself?”
 
He noted that agriculture production has been neglected by the private sector because of the great risks producers. That is why government should provide incentives and subsidies in promoting agriculture development.
 
Meanwhile, the ADB report pointed out that climate change is the biggest threat that food security faces. It urged economies to embrace “green” or environmentally sustainable growth.
 
Hunger alleviation fund
 
“While trade policies and resource management issues, in principle, can be solved quickly… problems caused by climate change are much more difficult to resolve in the short-term and will require long-term and internationally coordinated solutions,” the report noted.
 
“Without a shift from fossil-fuel-based economic growth, the global mean temperature is projected to increase by nearly 5 degrees Centigrade toward the end of the century,” it added.
 
For food security in Asia Pacific, the report recommended to set up a “hunger alleviation fund,” with each country safeguarding 1 percent of its gross domestic product for the initiative.
 
The fund will be used when food prices grow beyond the reach of the poor. “The funds could be jointly managed with the private sector, with companies encouraged to contribute using incentives such as tax breaks.”
 
“Targeted subsidies would deliver help to those who need it most,” the report added. —VS, GMA News
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