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Talking Points: Agriculture and Food Security

Updated: Mar 6, 2023


The May 2022 synchronized election is upon us. Crucial as elections have always been in charting the course of our country, this election is seen to even be more critical because the varied political, economic, social and environmental issues confronting us now are touted to be of utmost urgency that render us running against time.


We asked persons of different perspectives and expertise as to what they think are the most critical issues with regards the environment and climate change, agriculture and food security, the peace process, and indigenous peoples' rights that should be put on the table so people can engage in active and extensive conversations to guide them in choosing the best candidates.


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What issues should be discussed as people make their decision on whom to vote for?


COVID response. The current administration’s response to the covid 19 pandemic has not been effective. Eighteen months of lockdown and we have not experienced any semblance to normality. Alleged corruption and scandals and mismanagement of funds used to buy vaccines and health kits continue to plague the administration. Meanwhile, hospitals have no more beds for both COVID and non-COVID patients. People are confused with many misinformation and fake news as well as confusing and sometimes, non-common sense regulations.


Jobs. As a consequence of lockdowns, many have lost their jobs. Many businesses, especially small and medium scale businesses, have closed. Overseas workers have returned home and are still unable to find jobs abroad.


Food security. As people lose their jobs, and therefore their incomes, how can they be able to get food? As our farmers are unable to maximize the opportunities presented by COVID in terms of direct marketing to consumers, how can they also bring their products to the market and therefore provide healthy food to the people?


Good governance. In 2016, Filipinos elected Rodrigo Duterte because he was perceived as a “strong man” with the interests of the poor people at heart. But his being strong was tantamount to ruling the people with fear, of being imprisoned, of being killed. He is also seen in public only once a week; he curses; he threatens his critics; he provides unsubstantiated lists of "criminals"; and he is now being investigated by the ICC for all the EJKs that happened in the past five years and during his stint as mayor of Davao City. What kind of leadership is needed by the Filipinos?


Why are these issues crucial/critical?


They all mean life or death to millions. Health is important to be able to work, to live. When we are health insecure, when we are food insecure, it is a cause of panic, of conflict among the people. Good governance through rule of law and democratic processes allows for transparency, ownership and a sense of volunteerism and responsibility from the citizenry.



What are the available channels for community dialogues?


● Social media: Facebook, Zoom, Twitter, Messenger.


● Farmers' and community markets; community pantries



Ma. Estrella Penunia-Banzuela

Secretary General of the Asian

Farmers' Association for Sustainable

Rural Development






What issues should be discussed as people make their decision on whom to vote for?


Agriculture:

  1. Integration of Production with Markets – there is a long standing disconnect among various agri-related government agencies/programs on how to address the stabilization of prices of agri-products especially during peak harvest seasons. This is very evident in rice, corn, mangoes, tomatoes, onions and upland/lowland vegetables. Due to lack of post-harvest facilities under the control of farmer-producers, the middlemen benefit most from the government’s efforts to efficiently increase agri-production.

  2. Investments in post-harvest facilities, including cold chain facilities, will greatly stabilize prices during peak harvest season of highly perishable agri-commodities, i.e. fruits, upland vegetables, onions and tomatoes.

  3. Government should support through low interest loans to farmers organizations/ cooperatives to enable them to establish post-harvest that will include drying, storage and transport facilities for rice and corn.

  4. Access to vital market information to enable farmers to get better prices for their products.

  5. A Livestock Integration Program should be developed by the government to increase rural incomes. It has been shown through previous studies that a farmer that has integrated livestock production with his/her crop production increases his/her income by as much as 20%. Small and efficient livestock farming programs should be strengthened by providing start-up capital either in cash of kind (animals).


Fisheries:

  1. Given the decreasing volume of fish catch of fisherfolk in rivers and seas, the government should strengthen its program to promote cultured fish production in areas identified to be suitable for these types of projects. Government efforts to open suitable “near-shore” areas for cultured fish production to organized fisherfolks and provide suitable financing mechanisms to start-up the program.

  2. Given the huge number of fisherfolks in “near-shore” areas, a long term program to relocate fisherfolk communities should be initiated by government to lessen the negative impact on the projected sea water rise in the next five to ten years that could endanger the lives and livelihood of the fisherfolks. Government land suitable for agri-production adjacent to existing fisherfolk communities should be allocated to fisherfolks willing to relocate their families to safer locations and willing to shift their source of livelihood from mainly fishing to either crop production or livestock production or both.

  3. Again, government support in providing suitable financing mechanisms should be provided to start up the programs.


Population Management:

  1. The rapid increase in population exerts tremendous pressure on vital resources and services and should be addressed as soon as possible. An effective population management program should be implemented by government to addressed poverty, malnutrition and insufficient education and health care facilities especially in the rural areas. Experts have concluded that if an effective population management program is initiated today, the beneficial effects will be realized 25 years after since those that will be giving births have already been born today. This realization should guide the present and next administration on the importance of an effective population management program which could affect government resources in providing a better quality of life to its people.

Felix L. Tañedo

Agriculturist



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Talking Points for the 2022 Philippine Elections was first published in the December 2021 issue of The Mediator, the official magazine of MedNet.

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