The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger, has allocated $300,000 for the conduct of a study on food production and food consumption in the face of rapid population growth in the Philippines.
The study will focus on determining food requirements of Filipinos 50 years from today and which needs will be answered through the National Food Consumption Quantification Survey, a major advocacy of the Department of Agriculture under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“With this study, we will be prepared for the future and hopefully we will be able to prepare programs to ensure that our grandchildren will have enough food to eat,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.
The study will provide answer to the following questions:
• What food do Filipinos prefer to eat?
• How much of this food do they consume?
• Where and how do we produce this food?
• How much of this food do we need to produce for Filipinos 10, 20 or 50 years from now?
• Up to what point will the land and aquatic resources of the country be able to supply the food needs of a bigger population?
• How do we produce food using less land and water?
• How do we wean Filipino consumers from their dependence on food commodities that require large areas to grow?
Pinol said even if the country achieves rice sufficiency by 2020 as programmed, maintaining the level of food security will be fleeting and temporary unless the massive population growth is checked.
The other innovation following the FAO study is the National Color-Code Agriculture Guide Map, which will help farmers determine what crops are suitable to their areas.
“People have to understand that the 30-million hectare land area and the width of the seas within the country’s EEZ [Exclusive Economic Zone], including the 25-million hectare continental shelf east of Luzon called the Philippine Rise, are finite,” Piñol explained.
“There will be a point in the life of this nation when the land and the seas will no longer be able to produce enough food for Filipinos,” he said.
Current population of the Philippines is 105.9 million as of February 2018, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
The Philippine population is equivalent to 1.4 percent of the total world population.
“We may achieve rice sufficiency by 2020 but it will be temporary and fleeting as I expect population to overtake the capacity of the country to produce food the traditional way. This is something that our leaders must understand and appreciate that the need to manage population is not an affront on a religious dogma but part of the struggle for the survival of the nation,” Piñol said.
He believes farmers can only produce as much food as there are lands to till and fishermen could only catch as much fish as there are seas to sail.
Beyond that, according to Piñol, not even the best agriculturist could ensure that there will be enough food for everybody.
The FAO study is expected to start before the end of the year as documents covering the loan grant are completed and signed by the Philippine government and the world food body.
FAO’s global vision is for a world free from hunger and malnutrition where food and agriculture contribute to improving the living standards of all especially the poorest, in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner.
Its assistance to the Philippines is shaped by the Country Programming Framework, which focuses on four priority areas: improving food and nutrition security; enhancing agricultural production and productivity; sustaining management of natural resources; and promoting agricultural adaptation, climate change mitigation and disaster risk reduction.