Food Security and Self-Sufficiency

We are reissuing this statement for the 2010 elections. Bayan Muna is running under the Makabayan coalition who has Rep. Satur Ocampo and Lisa Maza running for Senate.


Scientists group say people has to be first in science and technology

Since AGHAM’s founding in 1999, we have upheld that science and technology development cannot be divorced from the overall people’s development. In our long involvement in political affairs in both the national and international arenas, the partylist group Bayan Muna has proven firm and consistent with their support for the Science and Technology Agenda formulated in 2004 along with the agenda of other sectors of Philippine society.

As we celebrate Earth Day 2010, let us remember that the state of our environment is tied to the political and economic aspects of our society.

This link is crucial to understand why—in spite of our country’s rich natural resources—we have remained underdeveloped, our people deeper in poverty and has become more vulnerable to the backlash of a destroyed environment.

"Pagtitiyak ng Produktibidad ng Sakahan at Seguridad sa Pagkain sa Gitna ng Nagbabagong Klima"

Last Saturday, October 16, marked the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s World Food Day with their declaration of the global observance of fighting world hunger at the national, regional, and international levels. Yet despite this yearly reminder, 2009 broke records with one billion hungry people in the world.
This increase has been attributed to the increase in the world food prices and the financial crisis. Back here at home, the prevalence of hunger and malnutrition persists. According to the results of the Second Quarter 2010 Social Weather Survey conducted from June 25 to 28, 2010, hunger has been reported consistently by over 20 percent of their respondents for three successive quarters, the most glaring were 21.2 percent in March 2010 and a record-high 24.0 percent in December 2009. From 1998 to 2010, the incidence of hunger has risen to 13.6 percent which implies the chronic severity of the problem.


Landed on:

The April 12 banner headline of PDI entitled Noy warned of Rice Crisis, sent a strong signal to the government, that this is a serious matter that needs timely and appropriate action given that the Philippines has experienced rice crisis in 1995 and 2008. Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala’s displeased response to the alleged report of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) should not veer away from the reality that the country has gone into a chronic and systemic rice crisis characterized by production shortages, heavy dependence on rice imports, and a market monopolized by a few rice traders.

(AGHAM’s agriculturist, Ms. Finesa Cosico, wrote today’s column for Prometheus Bound.)

AGRICULTURE remains a big challenge for the country as numbers from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics show that corn and palay production contracted last year. From producing as much as 16.8 million metric tons (MT) of palay in 2008, we now only have around 15.8 million MT production for last year. The same thing happened in corn output last year where the total production has gone down by 9.34 percent from 7.0 million MT in 2009 to only 6.3 million MT in 2010. Palay production is on the decline for two consecutive years already.

The Court of Appeals’ (CA) Special 13th Division issued a writ of kalikasan last May to stop the field trials of Bt Talong that was being undertaken in different parts of the country. In a decision penned by CA Associate Justice Isaias Dicdican, and concurred with Associate Justices Myra Garcia-Fernandez and Nina Antonio-Valenzuela, the appellate court enjoined the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and other agencies to stop the trials.

As recounted in a forum held by the petitioners belonging to the group RESIST, the CA decision pointed out four grounds in ordering the stop of the field trials. First, the court upheld the main argument of the opponents of the field testing that the field testing is characterized by “serious scientific uncertainty with regard to its health and environmental effects.”

“Rice wastage is not the issue but the current food insecurity of the country,” said Agricultural Engineer Ronald Garcia of Agham-Advocates of Science and Technology of People as a reaction to a Bill proposed by Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza and Rep. Agapito Guanlao in compelling restaurants to serve half cup rice to prevent wastage which contributes to rice shortage. “Pointing out that rice shortage is being brought about by the wasteful attitude of the Filipinos is an insult to a greater number of Filipinos who are experiencing extreme poverty,” he continued.

The Department of Agriculture claims that the country is at present, 98% self-sufficient in rice. However, there was an increase in the number of families who are experiencing involuntary hunger from 3.9 million families (17.3%) in the first quarter of 2013 to 4.9 million families (22.7%) in the second quarter of 2013, based on the June 28-30, 2013 SWS Survey.

Six months after Yolanda wrought havoc in the country, scientist group AGHAM Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (Agham) slam the Aquino government for continued criminal neglect of typhoon-hit areas particularly in the aspect of agricultural rehabilitation.

"If systematic government support was launched by the BS Aquino regime early this year, then food insecurity would not loom over Typhoon Yolanda communities. After clearing the area from debris, planting of food crops such as corn, rice, radish, beans, peanuts, fruits and vegetables that are commonly grown in the area should have been the immediate assistance of the government to answer the local community’s need for food resources,” said Ms. Cosico.

On World Environment Day, scientist group Agham Advocates of Science and Technology for the People calls on the Aquino government to intensify preparations for El Nino and other imminent calamities.

“If government preparation and response will be similar to what happened during the Yolanda disaster, El Nino is another devastation waiting to happen,” warned Agriculture Engr. Ronald Garcia of scientist group Agham (Advocates of Science and Technology for the People).

According to the group, current government actions such as cloud seeding, water regulation and the disposal of drought-resistant rice varieties would not be able to counteract the impacts that the current El Nino might bring.

Yolanda flattened around 196,101 hectares (ha) of farm lands planted with rice and corn in Eastern Visayas alone. In the years 1997 to 1998, El Nino damaged 292,000 ha of corn and rice farm lands in the country. 70% of the archipelago also suffered from severe drought.