A nation is said to be food secure if people have access to safe and nutritious food at all times, and that what they eat is sufficient to provide them their daily needs in order to perform activities and tasks efficiently, be it in school, office, or life, in general. Assessing the status of food security of a country or community requires various data from various sectors of the society describing the physical, social, and economic factors that may impede or cause the problem.
“Ang food security ay hindi lamang domain ng Department of Agriculture (DA), responsibility ito ng napakaraming government agencies,” Dr. Domingo E. Angeles, chair of the Interdisciplinary Studies Center on Food and Nutrition Security (ISCFNS), said during a seminar on “Creating Food Secure Communities through Extension and Public Service” organized by the UPLB Ugnayan ng Pahinungod, the volunteer service program of the University, on May 7, 2018 at the Rural Economic Development-Renewable Energy Center (REDREC) Auditorium, UPLB.
The event was attended by UPLB students, faculty members, and representatives from different government and private offices such as DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), National Dairy Authority, Barangay Integrated Development Approach for Nutrition Improvement (BIDANI), UPLB Institute of Chemistry, World Vision, among other agencies involved in addressing food security issues in the country.
Angeles cited the four dimensions of food security namely availability, accessibility, utilization, and stability. Because of factors such as sluggish economic growth, poverty especially in Mindanao, prevalence of small and fragmented farms, low labor productivity, environmental degradation, malnutrition, and others, the country has not yet met these standards.
“Parang walang nangyayari sa mga programa natin kasi instead na ma-improve, nawo-worsen,” Angeles said. He noted that for the past six years, the Philippines’ ranking in the Global Food Security Index has remained between 60 to 70 out of more than 100 countries.
Noting that food security is interdisciplinary and involves multi-agency participation, Angeles also said that the status of nutrition of the people is also an indicator of food security. “Habang ang malnutrition sa Pilipinas ay mataas, ibig sabihn ay hindi natin naaabot ang gusto nating food security ng bansa,” he said.
Furthermore, Angeles suggested that UPLB can help address the said issue by generating new knowledge and technologies, strengthening the curricula on food security, advocating policies, and serving as a center of excellence in food security assessment.
Meanwhile, National Nutrition Council (NNC) Nutrition Officer Katherine C. Villanueva discussed the NNC’s programs and projects that are aligned to address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) specifically on ending all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030. “There is no hunger when there is food security,” she said.
Villanueva shared NNC’s Philippine Plan for Action for Nutrition (PPAN) for 2017-2012, anchored on the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) “AmBisyon Natin 2040”, to respond to the country’s malnutrition. The NNC is implementing nutrition-specific interventions that aim to reduce undernutrition, obesity, and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).
Villanueva also discussed NNC’s interventions specifically concerned with early childhood care and development (ECCD) such as The First 1000 Days, which addresses and gives importance to the pre-conception stage until the child reaches around two years of age. “Very critical ang period na ito kasi dito ang kailangan ng optimum nutrition,” she said emphasizing that children who do not receive proper feeding and care at this stage could suffer from irreversible effects on their physical and mental development.
Villanueva also recommended ways to help meet the goals of NNC for finding solutions to issues on food security such as supporting BIDANI to achieve institutionalization at municipal and village levels, promoting nutrition-specific programs of PPAN, establishing partnership with local agriculture office to promote food gardens, preventing food wastage, and buying locally grown food.
Pahinungod Director, Glenn S. Lubuguin, said earlier in his opening remarks that “food security is a special topic and we are recognizing UPLB’s expertise in agriculture, food, and nutrition”. Thus, UPLB Ugnayan ng Pahinungod took the initiative to deliver this kind of awareness to a broader audience this time. Lubuguin expressed his hopes that UPLB could help these agencies aim for a more food secure country, or at least, the immediate communities each belong to.
(Credits to UPLB Ugnayan ng Pahinungod for the photos and featured image above)