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DA warns of looming food crisis

The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Wednesday warned of a looming food crisis, brought about by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy, rising fuel prices, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

“Nakikita natin at marami na ring mga eksperto ang nagsasabi na there is a looming food crisis. Tayo naman…ay handa tayo…Itong second semester of the year. Nakikita na ninyo ang pagtaas ng presyo ng inputs, kaunti ang mabibili sa global market,” DA Secretary William Dar said in Ivan Mayrina’s report on “24 Oras.”

(We as well as other experts are saying there is a looming food crisis. For us in the DA, we’re ready even if we’re seeing an increase in the prices of inputs during the second semester of the year. That’s because of the lack of products to be bought in the global market.)

Agriculture undersecretary Fermin Adriano seconded Dar’s remarks, adding the Philippines’ low food production and the ballooning population further contributed to the emerging problem.

“Sa dalawang dekada na yun. Tumataas lang, lumalago lang ang productivity nyan ng 1.1 percent napakababa talaga pero yung population natin lumalaki annually ng 1.4 [percent] kaya kulang na kulang ang production natin,” said Adriano.

(In the last two decades, our productivity has only been increasing by 1.1 percent, while our population is annually growing by 1.4 percent. That’s the reason why there’s a shortage in our production.)

To mitigate the issue, the government is relying on the National Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization and Industrialization Plan, which includes programs to beef up the country’s food and agriculture production. The plan was first implemented in 2021 and is expected to be continued until 2030.

“We will pass on the document to the next leadership of the department. And as I said, there's no time for a learning curve to the next officials ng agrikultura. Wala pong time kasi may krisis tayong kinahaharap [There’s no time because we’re facing a crisis],” Adriano said.

The DA also urged the public take up urban farming to further bolster the country’s food production.

“Dapat paghandaan… Bawat Pilipino. Kung pwede, magtanim tayong lahat, mag-alaga at mangisda. Sa urban areas… we have to do it, tayong mamamayan, plantito at plantita,” Dar said.

(Every Filipino should be ready. If allowed, we should plant, breed animals, and fishes. We have to do it even in the urban areas.)

Likewise, the DA is urging the government to add to the buffer stock of NFA rice for 30 days instead of seven days. The supply will be sold to members of 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) who are severely affected by rising food prices. However, it admitted its proposal would require a bigger allocation. — Sundy Locus/BM, GMA News