The Philippine government formalized its commitment to end hunger and malnutrition as it launched the National Food Policy (NFP), during the closing program of the week-long 2020 World Food Day (WFD) celebration on October 16, 2020.
“We strongly endorse and commit to action the newly-launched National Food Policy under the authorship and leadership of Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said during the event, held at the DA-Bureau of Soils and Water Management in Quezon City.
For his part, Nograles — chair of the Inter-agency Task Force on Zero Hunger that crafted the NFP of President Duterte’s administration — said hunger is a multi-dimensional problem caused by a combination of inter-related factors, and thus collective action of everyone is crucial in addressing it effectively.
“To ensure not only a whole-of-government approach, but also a whole-of-nation approach in eradicating hunger, the NFP provides an outline of the national priorities based on a comprehensive understanding of hunger and related issues,” he said.
Secretary Dar, who serves as vice-chair of the Zero Hunger Task Force, said the 2020 World Food Day celebration is made more relevant as it highlighted the need to attain food security with a greater sense of urgency, as the Philippines and other countries worldwide contend with the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“With this year’s theme, ‘Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together,’ the Department of Agriculture (DA) assures our countrymen that we will sustain our efforts to ensure food adequacy for the present and future generations of Filipinos,” the agri chief said.
As the country’s food security depends on the agriculture sector, Secretary Dar said the DA will continue developing more strategies aimed at increasing food productivity in cost-efficient and sustainable ways.
He said the DA strives to make revolutionary changes to the sector, elevating it to “Agriculture 4.0” — that is a smarter and more efficient industry that employs big data and new technologies benefiting the entire food value chain, especially producers and consumers.
During the early weeks of the pandemic, Secretary Dar said the DA and its partners worked hard and implemented various initiatives that helped avoid any food shortages, thus there were no queues at food distribution centers unlike in previous economic crises.
The DA programs include “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” marketing, urban agriculture, and other initiatives under the ‘Plant, Plant, Plant’ umbrella program. All of these are expected to be part of the new normal to help ensure food security, Secretary Dar said.
As part of the WFD celebration, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) also launched on October 16 its Food Security and Nutrition (FSN) Roadmap that complements the NFP, said CabSec Nograles.
The NFP has outlined six key result areas, namely: 1) review and rationalize existing policies, rules, and regulations related to zero hunger; 2) ensure available and affordable food; 3) secure nutrition adequacy; 4) secure food accessibility and safety; 5) ensure sustainable food systems, food resiliency, and stability; and 6) ensure information, education, awareness, and people participation.
“We hope everyone is inspired by this indispensable goal of food security and takes steps forward in fighting these injustices, amid the pandemic – where consuming a balanced, nutritious diet every day is our only weapon against the Covid-19 virus,” Secretary Dar concluded, as he thanked President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for his leadership and commitment to the Filipino people. (GB, DA-AFID)
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