STATEMENT: Farmers’ welfare a key to making zero hunger a reality in the Philippines

October 16 is World Food Day. The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Our actions are our Future, a #ZeroHunger world by 2030 is possible.”

To commemorate World Food Day, governments, the private sector, and civil society organizations from 130 countries are holding a series of events to emphasize the importance of achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 in ending hunger globally. Goal 2 is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It seeks to “end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.” Making Goal 2 a reality is indeed challenging. According to the World Food Programme, a total of 821 million people suffer from hunger every day. This translates to one out of nine people ending their day without eating anything. This truth is ironic considering an unprecedented economic growth and massive technological progress happening globally. But this stark reality also confirms that the disparity between the rich and poor population is getting wider.

In the Philippines, the government needs to act with a sense of urgency to address food security. While the country has historically been a net importer of food, the food deficit is worsened by the adverse effects of climate change. In 2017, the Global Hunger Index ranked the Philippines 68th out of 119 countries. In the same year, the National Nutrition Council revealed that more than 3.8 million children suffered from a stunted growth – which means that children are shorter for their age – while about 807,057 are considered underweight. The current rice crisis and the escalating prices of food commodities in the country further aggravate the problem.

The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) has been working with We Effect, an international development organization based in Sweden, operating in the Philippines since 2010 to support rural development through sustainable agriculture where men and women equally benefit. In its development programme for 2018-2022, PLCPD, through the support of We Effect and its partner farmers’ organizations, are pursuing an advocacy agenda that addresses the right to food security and rural development, involving small family farmers in the agenda. This advocacy agenda also includes support to the passage of the Magna Carta for Young Famers and the Coco Levy Trust Fund, which would hugely contribute to developing a new generation of farmers and ensuring the development of the coconut industry for at least three million small coconut farmers.

No farmer, no food, no future!