This April 14, 2020 photo shows residents of Parola compound in Tondo. The STAR/Edd Gumban, file
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang yesterday attributed the high incidence of food insecurity to the loss of jobs caused by the pandemic and vowed to step up measures to ensure enough food supply.
A survey conducted by the science department’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) indicated that 62.1 percent of Filipino households have experienced moderate or severe food insecurity.
Results of the poll, which was conducted from Nov. 3 to Dec. 3, also suggested that 71.7 percent of households bought food on credit while 66.3 percent borrowed food from relatives or neighbors. Food insecurity peaked between April and May last year during enforcement of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), according to the survey, which covered 5,717 households with 7,240 individuals.
The FNRI defined food insecurity as “the state in which people are at risk or actually suffering from inadequate consumption to meet nutritional requirements.” Food insecurity was also described by the Global Forum on Food Security of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as “a result of the physical unavailability of food, people’s lack of social or economic access to adequate food, or inadequate food utilization.”
“Of course we are saddened by this number. We need this survey by the DOST (Department of Science and Technology) to determine the effects of the problems caused by COVID-19,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles told radio station dzRH.
“Many of our countrymen do not have jobs and livelihood so many families are going hungry. It’s automatic and you will see the relationship (between joblessness and hunger),” he added.
Nograles, who heads the government’s anti-hunger task force, said the Duterte administration has programs designed to provide jobs and livelihood to Filipinos.
“During the celebration of Labor Day, it was emphasized that it is really important to help our countrymen find jobs or employment and to give them livelihood or enough training that will boost their employability,” the Cabinet official said.
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“Of course not everyone can work because of the pandemic. For those who cannot work, the government has interventions for them. Aside from providing aid, we can come up with more sustainable measures,” he added.
Nograles said the government is pushing for measures that would allow Filipinos to produce their own food. These measures include community or backyard gardening and urban agriculture. The administration is also eyeing the planting of vegetables in schools, he added.
“If we increase the supply of food, we would maintain price stability and food inflation would not increase… But it’s not enough that we produce more food. We have to ensure it would reach the markets especially in urban areas like NCR (National Capital Region),” he added.
Citing estimates from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez recently said about 1.5 million jobs were lost because of the enforcement of ECQ, which limited the mobility of people and forced several businesses to suspend operations.
The ECQ was implemented in the NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal from March 29 to April 11 to address the surge in COVID-19 infections.
The NCR Plus was downgraded to the more relaxed modified enhanced community quarantine last April 12.
Alexis Romero -The Philippine Star