By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
MANILA — The government must focus on ensuring food security, taming inflation and strengthening multisectoral collaboration to achieve the goal of attaining zero hunger by 2030, the National Nutrition Council (NNC) said on Wednesday.
The three priority actions were cited by NNC Nutrition Surveillance Division officer-in-charge Ellen Ruth Abella during a Laging Handa program.
The recommendation was made after President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. signed Executive Order (EO) 27 on May 18, reorganizing the Task Force on Zero Hunger, the body tasked to ensure the implementation of “coordinated, responsive, and effective” government policies, initiatives and projects to eliminate hunger.
Abella said the government must address challenges on food security to avoid the risk of malnutrition among Filipinos.
“May tatlo po kaming mungkahi na puwedeng maging priority action or focus para matupad po ang zero hunger policy ni President Marcos (We have three suggestions which could be considered as priority actions to achieve President Marcos’ zero hunger policy),” she said.
“Una po ‘yung patuloy na pagtugon po natin sa hamon ng food security, na siya din po iyong banner program ng ating Pangulo at kaakibat nito ay pagtugon sa malnutrition (First is addressing the challenges on food security, which is also the banner program of our President and can be linked to malnutrition),” Abella said.
Abella also stressed the need to take necessary steps to lower the price of basic commodities, especially of several food items such as rice, eggs and onions.
“Ibig sabihin po, kailangan po nating ayusin ‘yung ating food systems, ‘yung network po natin para siguraduhin na iyong supply po ng pagkain at presyo ay makakarating sa ating mga tahanan at makakain po ito ng bawat pamilyang Pilipino (It means we have to fix our food systems, network to ensure that there is sufficient food supply for every Filipino family),” she added.
Abella said eradicating hunger also requires multisectoral coordination and collaboration.
She said the government and its partners in the private sector must unite in implementing key action plans to achieve zero hunger.
“Kung hindi po tayo magtutulungan, hindi po tayo makikipagtulungan sa gobyerno, hindi po tayo magtutulungan sa bawat sektor, wala po tayong mararating eh (If we do not help each other, the government and key sectors, we will not achieve our goal),” Abella said.
The Task Force on Zero Hunger, created by virtue of EO 101 signed in 2020, is mandated to formulate a National Food Policy (NFP), which will outline national priorities based on a comprehensive understanding of the problem of hunger and related issues.
The NFP will also provide a roadmap for achieving zero hunger taking into consideration existing laws and issuances, as well as international law and treaty obligations.
Under the NFP, initiatives for ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture will be identified.
Marcos’ EO 27 reorganized the task force, headed by the now-defunct Office of the Cabinet Secretary, to transfer chairmanship to the secretary of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the executive director of the NNC.
In line with the issuance of EO 27, the DSWD is set to launch its “Walang Gutom 2027” food stamp program by the first quarter of 2024, benefitting at least 1 million poor households.
The program will be pilot tested from July to December this year.
The NNC, on the other hand, would come up with a Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition consisting of strategies to address food insecurity and malnutrition. (PNA)