November 3, 2011
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Chairman of the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food, and Social Justice and Rural Development, calls for an expansion of the backyard gardening component of the Aquino administration’s “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program”, otherwise known as CCT, to alleviate rising hunger amid rising food prices.
Pangilinan gives this recommendation after the Social Weather Station had reported that 4.3 million families have gone hungry in the past quarter and that “overall hunger” has risen sharply in Metro Manila and Luzon. This is coupled with a commentary published by an official of the Asian Development Bank saying that “the world may have already entered a new era where persistently high food prices are the ‘New Normal.’”
“If rising prices are the ‘new normal,’ then we cannot let rising hunger be part of this ‘new normal.’ It is unacceptable that people go on the entire day without any food to eat. We need to exhaust all means to find a creative solution,” Pangilinan says.
Part of the solution, he says, may just be in people’s backyards.
“We have seen through testimonies and case studies that backyard gardening has been effective in alleviating hunger and even in giving poor families and additional source of income,” Pangilinan points out. “What we will need, especially for the short-term, is to increase coverage of the backyard gardening program under the government’s ‘Pantawid Pamilya’ program, to give more poor and hungry families the chance to grow their own food and nourish themselves and their children. That’s the first step to getting people out of hunger.”
The second step, the lawmaker suggests, is to develop medium-to-long-term programs to bring more families back to farming in the rural areas, to make them more productive, less dependent on government hand-outs, and able to contribute to food security in the country.
“We need more people, especially the younger generation, to go back to farming in order to meet our food security goals. And government needs to pump in a lot of support for this sector in order for us to turn the tide around and be self-sufficient instead of relying on food imports. It’s the only way for an agricultural country like ours.”
“We can dream of modernization, manufacturing, and technology all we want, but unless we are able to get our people out of hunger and into a more productive and sustainable way of living, then we won’t be able to lift the country out of poverty,” Pangilinan emphasizes. “All our neighbors will be zooming past us, exporting their own agricultural products to the rest of the world, while we will be the Crippled Man of Asia, hands outstretched and always dependent on others.”
“Self-sufficiency as a nation starts with self-sufficiency as a family, and it could very well start in our own backyards,” Pangilinan asserts.
Image Source: City Farmer News