PH may face food shortage by 4th quarter as Ukraine war chokes supplies: agri group

Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 25 2022 09:42 PM | Updated as of May 25 2022 10:10 PM

MANILA - The Philippines may face a food shortage within the year, a food industry group said on Wednesday. 

The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc (PCAFI) said the Ukraine crisis is pushing a lot of food-exporting countries to limit or stop exports to secure their own supplies amid the effects of the Ukraine-Russia war. 

PCAFI President Danilo Fausto said there may be a food shortage in the country by the fourth quarter of 2022, during the holiday season.

"A lot of countries are banning their export to the Philippines in order to protect their own economic and food security. Where do we get the food if we do not have the production?" Fausto said. 

He said many countries have stopped exporting wheat to the Philippines and this may have a domino effect on other products. 

Wheat is the main ingredient for many products like bread, noodles and even animal feeds. Prices of other food items may also rise, thereby burdening Filipinos more, Fausto said.

Monde Nissin, one of the biggest food manufacturers in the Philippines, earlier said a global food crisis loomed, as Ukraine and Russia together account for 30 to 40 percent of the global wheat supply, and up to 40 percent of the world sunflower oil supply, which are used in many food products.

The next administration must hike the budget of the Department of Agriculture, which today only accounts for a small percentage of the total national budget, according to PCAFI.

Stricter measures must also be enforced against smuggling, which is hurting many farmers and agribusinesses, Fausto said. Stronger biosecurity measures at ports must also be set up to prevent the entry of diseases like Avian Flu and the African Swine Fever, he added. 

Farmers should also be given access to credit and for the government to make the agriculture sector a top priority.

"Agriculture is given second priority. Now that everybody is hungry, what would you do?" Fausto said. 

President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr earlier said he wanted to lower the price of rice to around P20 to P30 per kilo. 

Agriculture experts doubted if this was possible, and Marcos has been tight-lipped about how he plans to accomplish this.

Fausto also said that P20 per kilo rice may not be good for farmers. He added that there may be no more money for subsidies. 

"Let's stop treating [the] agricultural sector as a charity sector. Let's start treating agriculture as a good business, [a] profitable proposition para yung mga tao mag-invest," Fausto said. 

Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Wednesday said he would work with the next administration's transition team to ensure the implementation of the agency's proposed 10-year plan as well as the food sufficiency programs.

Inflation quickened to 4.9 percent in April as food prices climbed along with the cost of fuel and transport. 

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