Disasters affecting food prices

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A World Bank (WB) study released over the weekend said that the country’s food prices increase rapidly, which result in a lesser food consumption, every time natural calamities and disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes and floods occur.

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In a comparison of rainfall data and surveys during years 2003, 2006 and 2009, the study titled Disquiet on the Weather Front: The Welfare Impacts of Climatic Variability in the Rural Philippines found that the Philippines decreased food consumption by 4 percent when food and other agricultural prices go up rapidly during natural calamities.

“Periods of drought affect food prices. In particular, prices of agricultural commodities tend to increase,” the WB said, despite the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) automatically issuing price freeze orders once a region or area is placed under a state of calamity.

“Droughts have a widespread impact in rural areas, affecting agricultural and non-agricultural households alike,” the international lender said.

In relation to rural areas, the study showed that Western Visayas is the most at risk to climate change among other regions in the country, with a 9-percent disaster impact, followed by the Ilocos region with a near 9-percent impact rate.

The international lending institution recommended that the country should invest in and improve irrigation, improved water management, transport and communications, agricultural research and information dissemination to intensify the country’s readiness when calamites strike.

“Access to communication, highways as well as to markets decreases the impact of erratic weather,” the WB said.

Besides the aforementioned, developing credit and insurance markets are also encouraged, as well as “creating well-targeted social safety nets systems such as conditional cash transfers, workfare programs and social funds.”

“Policies that help reduce impacts of climate change are the same instruments in reducing poverty and promoting economic growth,” the WB added.

In the past weeks, the country faced natural disasters such as Typhoon Santi and the 7.2-magnitude earthquake mainly on Bohol and Cebu.

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