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As root of hunger, address poverty first — DA chief

Author: DA Communications Group | 20 October 2020

Poor people do not have access and money to buy food, thus they suffer most from hunger.

This was highlighted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar in his keynote address at the culmination of the 2020 World Food Day (WFD) observance, on October 16, 2020.

“Our governments should first address poverty incidence, and thereafter sustain food security efforts,” the DA chief said, as he called on other nations to ensure production of adequate, affordable, and nutritious food, and make these accessible to poorer segments of society.

“There is still a long way to go before the Philippine government can lift more Filipinos out of the quagmire of poverty, as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers,” he added during the closing event of 2020 WFD, with the theme, “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together.”

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said the country’s poverty incidence in 2018 was estimated at 16.7 percent, or about 17.7 million Filipinos, whose family of five earns less than P10,481 a month.

Secretary Dar said the Duterte administration is relentless in implementing anti-poverty and hunger-mitigating programs under the “whole-of-nation approach.”

“Thus, we at the DA will continuously implement more sustainable agri-fishery projects to help reduce poverty. Further, we will align our food production goals with our health goals, aimed at nourishing our countrymen, most particularly children,” he added.

“We fully agree that we all have to ‘dance with the pandemic’ and manage the risks to create employment once again, and crank up livelihood activities and stimulate consumption,” said the DA chief.

“With money in their pockets, our poor countrymen can afford to buy enough food for their families,” said the DA chief, who was joined by three officials of the United Nations (UN) in the Philippines, including Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, during the WFD culminating program, held at the DA-Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) in Quezon City on October 16, 2020.

Yearly, the DA leads the nationwide observance of the WFD, in partnership with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that celebrated its 75th anniversary.

“We hope our week-long celebration was a nourishing one for all in increasing our appreciation of the hardwork of farmers, fishers, agripreneurs, and the DA family in producing more adequate, affordable, and nutritious food on the table of every Filipino family,” Secretary Dar said.

UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez said the pandemic has pushed for multilateralism and mobilizing Covid-19 agenda of government institutions. He said this pandemic tested all organizations (government and non-government) to capacitate their response and thinking out-of-the-box and innovative solutions to end global food insecurity.

“First, this is an attribution to Nobel Prize for the UN World Food Programme (WFP), a recognition to the women and men working at the frontline of this battle, to our UN colleagues, and recognition also to the DA,” said Gonzalez, who also keynoted the WFD closing program.

For his part, UN-WFP Philippines Deputy Country Director Mats Persson said the World Food Day calls for innovative solutions to improve food systems, integrating them with Covid-19 recovery plan.

Assistant UN-FAO Representative in the Philippines Tamara Palis-Duran said government efforts should provide innovative ways such as food handling and food sanitation to provide healthy and balance choices in the market.

The 2020 WFD event was also graced virtually by National Zero Hunger Champion and Miss World 2013 Megan Young.

She said the government must invest in solution-oriented approaches like new farming methods and technologies, continuously empower farmers and fisherfolk, and encouraged everyone to help address hunger and poverty.

She also urged the private sector to work hand in hand with the government like the DA to maintain healthy communities.

“If we do these, sustainability and food security won’t be a problem,” Young said.

Food Security Ambassadors James Reid and Cherrie Atilano also delivered inspirational messages during the event and committed to use their voices to influence the young Filipinos to take part in sustainable food production.

During the WFD event, the agri chief endorsed and committed to support the newly-launched National Food Policy, under CabSec Nograles, who also chairs the Inter-Agency Task Force on Zero Hunger.

Secretary Dar also launched the “Agri-Pinay Credit Program,” that offers rural women loans of up to P100,000 for any agri-fishery project. It is non-collateralized, has zero interest, and payable in five years. He was joined by DA Undersecretary Evelyn Laviña and DA Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) Director Jocelyn Badiola. ### (Kristel Merle, DA-AFID)

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