Being the 13th most populous country across the globe, the Philippines struggles to deal with the country’s hunger problem. There are several statistics that provide a quick view of the hunger profile of the Philippines and sharply point out that the economy, despite significant economic growth, faces serious hunger problems. The ever-increasing human population, a steady decline in agricultural productivity and food production in the past few years have added more to the persistent hunger and food security problems in the region. While women and children constitute to be the major population suffering from these problems, the country has witnessed a minimal decrease in the number of underweight children but there needs to be a much more hitting approach to tackle the problems facing the Philippines.
Moving towards a unipolar world order, the 120-countries organisation, the Non-Aligned Movement has shown the ability to restructure the world. With several changes and challenges facing the world, the commitment of the Non-Aligned Movement has developed into furthermore firm adherence to the issues that deal with these new global realities and challenges. Stringent towards eliminating poverty and related problems, the 120-nations’ organisation has always laid the foundational layout for the economies to mark remarkable changes in the perspective and the policies and programmes to move towards a better and brighter future.
In the case of the Philippines, where hunger and food security constitute to be the major problems, the President of the country, in a recent development, has set up an inter-agency task force for the implementation of coordinated and effective measures to combat the hunger problems and ensure food security in the economy. The development comes as the country citing that current efforts are unable to address the problem as 2.4 million families experienced moderate to extreme hunger in 2018 and 13.7 million children being undernourished. As per the Executive Order 101 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Zero Hunger will be headed by the Cabinet Secretary with the Agriculture and Social Welfare secretaries as vice Chairpersons and the Heads of the Departments of Agriculture, Budget and Management, Education, Environment, Health, Interior and Local Government, Trade and Industry, Science and Technology, Presidential Communications Operations Office, National Economic and Development Authority and Commission on Higher Education as the members of the body.
In the Executive Order signed by President, he stated that involuntary hunger, food security, under-nutrition, and child wasting, stunting and mortality, continue to be serious concerns in the country and stressed on the need to carefully coordinate, rationalise, monitor and assess the efforts of concerned government agencies and instrumentalities in adopting a whole of government approach to get rid of hunger in the country and achieving food security at the same time. As per the Order, the task force is tasked to chalk out the National Food Policy (NFP) that based on a comprehensive understanding of the problems related to hunger and other issues, will define the national priorities and further shall provide a blueprint for achieving the target of Zero hunger in the Philippines. Also, it shall provide annual reports on the state of hunger, food security, nutrition and agricultural productivity to the President. The NFP is mandated to be comprising of initiatives for eradicating hunger, improving nutrition, achieving food security and promoting sustainable agriculture.
While the technical working groups among its member agencies will be formulated to take care of the particular concerns related to the implementation of the Executive Order, the Task Force will also be assisted by a number of government agencies that will render necessary assistance and guidance to the task force. The current appropriations of the member agencies will be charged for the initial funding requirements to ensure smoother and effective implementation of the Executive Order while for the succeeding years, the budgetary requirements will be included in the annual budget proposals of the concerned agencies. With such concerted efforts from various departments, the Philippines government led by President Rodrigo Duterte, aims to cut down hunger by 25 per cent every two and a half years. The country recognises the depth of the problem and has strongly committed to ensure additional measures to combat hunger on its face, given that how the problem needs and urgent eye and cannot be ignored. Acting in line with the ideology laid by the Non-Aligned Movement of ensuring concerted efforts to tackle the problem facing the economies, the Philippines government aims to eradicate hunger from the country by 2030.