The BREADWINNER | Mario F. Fetalino Jr.
It is said that 21.1 percent of Filipino families experienced involuntary hunger last year.
According to a Social Weather Station survey, the figure is a a record high, surpassing 19.9% in 2011 and 2012, and double the average of 9.3% in 2019 before the pandemic.
In the Global Hunger Index of 2020, the Philippines ranks 69th among 107 countries with a score of 19. That level is moderate in terms of its four component indicators: undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting, and child mortality.
We should not allow that level to get worse considering we have enough resources to feed our people. Otherwise, hunger will be our next tough enemy after Covid 19.
Fully aware of this are members of the private sector. One of which is the Aboitiz Group which recently pledged support to the government’s anti-hunger campaign, seeking to address involuntary hunger and malnutrition in the country, one of the most pressing global problems compounded by the Coronavirus-19 pandemic.
With its own social initiatives aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the Aboitiz Group believes collaborating with the government in its effort to combat hunger in the country or eradicate it altogether is crucial to realizing SDG Goal No. 2 or Zero Hunger by 2030.
Through its food subsidiary Pilmico, Aboitiz has been advocating food security by supporting local farmers through sustainable livelihood programs and promoting locally-grown food consumption.
Pilmico’s flagship program ‘Mahalin Pagkaing Atin’ campaign (now called ‘Pilmico Livelihood Program) which was launched in 2014 aims to provide sustainable livelihood businesses in places with high incidences of poverty, disasters, and conflicts. It tells the stories of farmers whose produce reflect the various geographical areas in the country, as well as the differences in local farming practices and culture.
The program aims to help people rebuild their lives; promote sustainable livelihood by promoting locally grown produce; instill a “pride of product, pride of place” mindset for both the farmers and the local consumers.
Helping farmers increase their capability to earn adequate income and increase farm productivity would alleviate the longstanding predicament of hunger in the country, said Aboitiz Group President and CEO Sabin M. Aboitiz.
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Zero Hunger launched in November last year the ‘Pilipinas Kontra Gutom (PKG) (Lahat Kasali, Lahat Kasalo)’ project, a multi-sectoral collaboration that aims to tackle the roots of involuntary hunger which includes challenges in food production, distribution, accessibility, hidden hunger, and malnutrition.
The task force, led by Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, rallied the support of the academe, non-profit organizations, private corporations, and the general public to help develop sustainable solutions on food availability, increased food accessibility, adequacy of food nutrition, and assistance in hunger-stricken communities, especially during this time of crisis ー the four program workstreams.
The Aboitiz Group is a co-lead for Workstream 1, which is focused on food availability. It aims to double the productivity and income of small-scale producers using sustainable food systems.
Our call to bayanihan is a call to all organizations and each and every Filipino to help fellow Filipinos (Lahat Kasali, Lahat Kasalo),” Nograles said during PKG’s private sector launch recently, thanking all those who readily responded to the call for cooperation to help more communities across the country.
He thanked the private sector for not only simply responding to the call but taking the lead and going that extra mile. He assured that the government is doing all that it possibly can to eradicate hunger and all forms of malnutrition.
The Cabinet Secretary also called on the private sector to help decentralize benefits from highly urbanized cities and bring aid to impoverished municipalities with less resources and fewer or no benefactors at all.
Other entities which have already pledged support are Ronald McDonald’s House Charities, Cobena, Jollibee, Nestle, Vitarich, Unilever, J&J, Coca-Cola, San Miguel, among others.
I hope more would join the bandwagon to fight hunger in our country.
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