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HomePublic LifeBEYOND BATTLE ROYALE | Food security (insecurity?) Nuancing the pledges

BEYOND BATTLE ROYALE | Food security (insecurity?) Nuancing the pledges

AT A GLANCE

  • Lack of local database on food sources and consumption a limitation of the DNX research
  • City Hall has never had an agency assigned to do research and compile local data related to food security
  • Both parties, Asenso and Progreso, did not have clear-cut programs on food security presented to the electorate during the campaign
  • Presumptive Mayor Albee Benitez will certainly include food security among his priorities, his spokesman tells DNX

From a settlement along the banks of the Magsungay River to a community in a place now called Camingawan (from “mingaw” or lonely in Hiligaynon), this town once called Buklod (“stonehill”) has now grown into the only highly-urbanized city in Western Visayas region, and has become the political and commercial center of Negros Occidental province.

And with it a growth in population.

Over the past 50 years, its population grew from at least 187,000 in 1970 to about 413,000 in 2020, various sources showed.

The government’s 2015 Census of Population showed out of the 1,219 villages in the then Negros Island Region (dissolved by President Duterte in 2016), the top 10 most populous barangays or villages are all in Bacolod City.

The definition of a city varies but it is generally understood as a settlement of a large group of people performing non-agricultural tasks, people who cannot feed themselves.

Food, therefore, is a concern.

As part of its election reporting project supprted by Internews Philippines, DNX focused on food security locally and has made some observations during the 45-day campaign period after analyzing the platforms presented to the electorate by two major political parties – the ruling Grupo Progreso and the then challenger Team Asenso that won 10 of the 15 top elective positions.

The major findings include:

  • Both parties have no clear-cut programs on food security; and
  • There is a lack of local data on issues related to food like consumption. There is no government office that is clearly assigned to do research and maintain a database on this.

The only sources of information related to the issue are the price monitoring unit under the Sectoral Concerns Office headed by Executive Assistant Ernie Pineda and the City Agriculture Office headed by lawyer Goldwyn Nifras.

The Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department reported that in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, around 6 out of 10 Filipinos experienced a moderate to severe food insecurity.

United Nations describes someone who is food secure as somebody who has “physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.

In other words, food security takes into account certain factors including economic access (can one afford the food available?) and supply (does one have the means to get the food, but food itself is unavailable).

And it is not just any food, either. Food has to be nutritious, and safe (so, fast food from dubious sources do not count).

It would be interesting to note, then, if food security is a consideration or a priority of either of the candidates for mayor in the city: the current Mayor Evelio Leonardia, and contender former third district Cong. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez.

For Leonardia, the closest thing is his specific plan under Economic Recovery, which is Food and Goods Delivery.
Benitez, meanwhile, has no mention of addressing food security in his platform with key words like “food access” or simply “food” absent from his plans.

Data from the Department of Science and Technology – Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOSTFNRI) reveals the nitty-gritty details of the average food consumption through a three-year survey that started in 2018 in their Expanded National Nutrition Survey (ENNS) in 2018.

The data, according to the DOST, is gathered through stakeholder and partner as well as the use of survey questionnaires.

The DOST-FNRI survey was done to “evaluate the current food intake and pattern of individuals in the households; reflect the foods available in the households;  examine the trends and changes in the per capita consumption of food and nutrient over time; monitor the trends in the proportion of households meeting energy adequacy relative to Sustainable Goal Number 2, Zero Hunger”

The research, the paper said, could also provide precious insights on the food consumption pattern of the average Filipino as well as map out possible health concerns as a result of overconsumption.

This could hopefully “aid in the policy and program development for poverty alleviation, food security, and health and nutrition strategies of the government and private organizations”.

RESULTS

The results are as follows:

The average intake of Filipinos for one day in 2018 based on a survey of 20,326 households are:

Cereals and cereal products, 1198.2 g or 39 percent; vegetables, 454.1g or 15 percent; fish and fish products, 338.1 g or 11 percent; meat products at 236 g or 8 percent, milk and milk products at 198.5 g or six percent, at fruits 145.7 g or five percent.

Those with less than four percent intake are eggs, poultry, fats and oils, dried beans and seeds, sugars and syrups, and starchy roots and tubers.

The CPBRD said during the pandemic, 53 percent of Filipinos experience food insecurity during the pandemic.

The following are the reasons cited: lack of money(33.0%), limited public transportation (21.6%), loss of livelihood (19.5%), lack of access to adequate food livelihood (19.5%), lack of access to adequate food them (5.1%).

BACOLOD IN A NUTSHELL

Senior City Executive Ernie Pineda meanwhile said that Bacolod really was affected just like any other local government unit during the pandemic.

As cited in the national study, residents in Bacolod also experienced problems in food access especially with movement restrictions in place as the city is placed first under the General Community Quarantine, then under Enhanced Community Quarantine, and then the Modified ECQ, and finally now Alert Status Level 1.

Pineda told DNX that food supplies come from different sources, although much of the sources of meat and agricultural products are within Negros Occidental, fish produce is sourced from Zamboanga.

As with the 21 percent in the national survey who said that lack of transportation is a factor to their food insecurity, Pineda said the same is true with the local level as he admitted that the restrictions had made it more difficult for goods to be transported from one place to another.

The law of supply and demand also played a heavy role in the prices of fresh fruit. During the pandemic, a lot of people were buying fresh fruit for especially for those who had contracted COVID. This led to a hike in the demand for fruit, and in turn led to the hike in prices because of the low supply.

All these, however, have since stabilized now that the city has been placed under Alert Level 1.

Food Inventory One-day Food Weighing Food Recall HOUSEHOLD DIETARY DATA COLLECTION

Dietary Evaluation System Editing and Validation of Food Intake Data COMPUTATION OF FOOD INTAKE

Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.
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