Press Release
January 20, 2021

Stem rising food prices by making agriculture main economic growth driver: Pangilinan

RISING food prices may be stemmed with a focus on agriculture, Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said Wednesday in a privilege speech.

"Let us recall that during the pandemic last year, agriculture was the only sector that grew. If this trajectory continues, agriculture could be a major driver of growth, it would give income to the farmers as well as increase food supply in the market leading to lower prices and food for all. [That's] three birds with one stone," he said.

"Kapag kumikita ang ating mga magsasaka, sila ay mas gaganahan magtanim. At pag mas marami silang ani, mas mababa ang presyo ng mga bilihin sa palengke (If our farmers earn, they will be encouraged to plant. When harvest is bountiful, prices of commodities in the market will decline)," he added.

Pangilinan, who was former Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, also filed Senate Resolution 618 seeking for an inquiry to identify other interventions that would help stabilize and lower food prices, ensuring that Filipino consumers, especially the poor, have access to adequate and affordable food.

"May pandemya man o wala, kailangan nating kumain, kaya nandyan dapat ang sapat na suplay ng pagkain na mabibili sa abot-kayang halaga (With or without the pandemic, we all need to eat, that's why there's a need for adequate supply of affordable food)," he said.

The principal advocate for agriculture and farmers' and fishers' welfare said the high food prices causes hunger among Filipinos and stunting among Filipino children.

"Habang tumataas ang presyo ng pagkain, lalo pang dadami ang magugutom (As food prices rise, the number of hungry will also multiply)," he said.

Pangilinan cited both the September 2020 survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) that shows a new record-high of 30.7 percent, or an estimated 7.6 million households, experiencing involuntary hunger or hunger due to lack of food to eat; and the Unicef, which said that one in three Filipino children in the Philippines are stunted.

He also said the World Health Organization estimates that the Covid-19 pandemic may cause stunting among children under five years old if no mitigating measures are put in place.

Pangilinan said that with the pandemic taking people's livelihoods, low-wage earners may find it hard to survive,

"Sa gitna ng isang pandemyang nag-alis na ng hanapbuhay ng milyon-milyon, seryosong tanong: Ano ang mabibili ng 500 pesos mo? (In the middle of a pandemic, with thousands of jobs loss, here is a serious question: What can your 500 pesos buy?)" he asked.

Senator Cynthia Villar, Chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, agreed to conduct hearings on the resolution.

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