Press Release
July 19, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara called on the government not to be complacent amid declining hunger rates as the Food Price Index of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) continues to show volatility.

The Social Weather Station survey conducted from June 3 to 6 shows that 15.1 percent or 3 million Filipino families went hungry in the past three months, down from 20.5 percent or 4.1 million families in March.

However, the FAO index shows a 1 percent month-on-month increase from May to June and a 39 percent year-on-year increase from June 2010 to June 2011. Rice and sugar were among the major commodities whose prices rose over the last month.

"Although the local survey shows positive results, we cannot and should not be contented with this. The situation may get worse as growing demand for food continues to put pressure on our capacity to produce enough food for our needs," said Angara.

Indian economist Amartya Sen argued that hunger is rooted in the differences in wealth and power among populations, which affect their access to limited resources. The solution is to redistribute purchasing power and ensure that people have gainful employment to facilitate their to access food.

"Moreover, we need to establish appropriate mechanisms and promote national policies that give incentives to maximizing agricultural production. This could solve the problem in two ways: first by increasing food production to stabilize prices and prevent fluctuations in supply; and by raising incomes of the rural and poor who are often most vulnerable to hunger," explained Angara.

He also warned that hunger exacerbates malnutrition, which affects millions of children in the world. Malnutrition impedes children's full mental and physical development, putting their future in jeopardy.

To address malnutrition, Angara launched the Oh My Gulay! campaign which aims to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption among children.

This is in response to a World Bank report that the mortality rate for Filipino babies below five years old is three times higher in poor families, and that 3 percent of preschool children are malnourished.

"Alleviating hunger and improving nutrition go hand in hand. They are crucial in breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty. It is as much an issue of economics as one of social welfare," said Angara.

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