UN and Philippines parliamentarians unite to address food policy shortcomings

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

2015 Philippine Statistics Authority data says about 8.3 million Filipinos were "unable to meet their basic food needs". ©Getty Images
2015 Philippine Statistics Authority data says about 8.3 million Filipinos were "unable to meet their basic food needs". ©Getty Images

Related tags Food security Food and agriculture organization

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is joining forces with MPs in the Philippines in a first-of-its-kind alliance in Asia Pacific to improve the country's nutrition and food security situation.

The FAO Legislative Advisory Group-Philippines (FLAG-PH) was launched as part of a broader plan to develop similar partnerships in other Asia Pacific nations.

The collaboration comes as data continues to show the scale of the country's food security and nutrition problems.

Philippine Statistics Authority data from 2015 shows that approximately 8.3 million Filipinos were "unable to meet their basic food needs"​.

In 2016, a study by non-profit Save the Children stated that childhood stunting caused by under-nutrition affects workforce productivity and education, causing the country to lose at least PHP328bn annually.

Sonny Angara, who leads the Senate Local Government and Ways and Means Committees, said it was vital that policies to improve agricultural production were introduced.

He said it had been ignored in favour of economic development that relied on outsourcing and service industries, but added that it was "not too late" ​to tap into its potential and "reap the rewards"​. 

Concrete outcomes

"Agriculture is at a nexus of so many other subsidiary issues. We're talking about climate change, disaster reduction, food security, poverty reduction, rural development, (and) raising healthy families."

At FLAG-PH's first consultative meeting, FAO parliamentary expert Michael Planas stressed the partnership needed to lead to concrete outcomes.

Senator Cynthia Villar added that such bills must be "effectively implemented" ​or they would "amount to nothing"​.

"We have to really work on programmes which can help the people. These are theoretical issues. The more practical issues, we have to discuss."

Alliances like the FLAG-PH are not new. They were first established in Latin America, followed by Africa and Europe.

Regional programme officer for partnership and resource mobilisation Kaori Abe said, "This is where we want to catch up, to have stronger engagement in Asia as well."

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