MANILA – A food shortage in the Philippines is possible within the year.
This was the forecast of the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) at its general assembly in San Juan.
PCAFI president Danilo Fausto said many problems around the world – particularly the Ukraine-Russia crisis – will take a toll on domestic food supplies. He expects there may be a food shortage in the country by the fourth quarter of the year, which is a holiday season.
Fausto said: "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?"
He said many countries have stopped exporting wheat to the Philippines and this may have a domino affect on other products. Wheat is the main ingredient for many agri products like bread, noodles and even animal feeds. A low food supply will also lead to the increase of prices of other food items, thereby burdening Filipinos more.
PCAFI offers its recommendations to the incoming administration. Fausto said government must hike the budget of the Department of Agriculture, which today only accounts a small percentage in the total national budget.
Fausto is also urging government to have stricter measures against smuggling which is hurting many farmers and agri businesses. He adds there must also be stronger bio security measures at ports to prevent the entry of diseases like Avian Flu and the African Swine Fever.
He also wants farmers be given access to credit and for the government to make the agriculture sector a top priority, saying that food is very important for the people.
Fausto said: "Agriculture is given second priority. Now that everybody is hungry, what would you do?"
Senator-elect Alan Peter Cayetano, who was a guest speaker at the assembly, vowed to push for legislative reforms to help the agriculture sector.
Cayetano said: "Ngayon talaga kailangan front and center ang mga programa at proyekto natin sa agriculture." He added, "We have to make farming hindi lang uso, but it really has to be agribusiness."