Food Security challenges amidst a global pandemic

Food security is paramount to the success of our pandemic response.

The prices of basic goods and commodities have been constantly and significantly soaring over the past few months, which further adds to the brunt on the pockets of many households severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on the Department of Agriculture's price watch on December 2020, the prices of vegetable and meat products increased by more than 65%. This is brought about by a myriad of factors including the persistence of the African Swine Flu (ASF), aftermath of Typhoon Ulysses on agricultural produce, and in part due to the reluctance of farmers to continue producing as result of low prices and earnings during the ECQ period last year.

Price instability will continue to be a concern for both consumers and vendors alike until the harvest season begins which may start by March at the earliest.

The availability of affordable food products has a significant impact on the quality of life.  Already financially challenged due to the current pandemic, many households have been forced to significantly change or alter their lifestyles just to make ends meet. Considering the needs of individuals for nutritional food laden with vitamins to boost their immune system, the health of many Filipinos is at risk due to financial constraints and high prices of goods and commodities whereby some are forced to buy canned goods and ready-to-eat meals which are significantly cheaper but are less nutritious and healthy. 

Based on studies, food insecurity has considerable effects on individuals' health. Some studies also suggest that the immune system becomes weaker in the absence of regular and continued access to nutrients provided by fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables.

To counter this concern, the Department of Agriculture should crack the whip on potential abuses by middlemen and traders in terms of pricing to ease the burden on both market vendors and consumers. In the remedial, food importation from countries unaffected by the ASF may be viable but extended assistance should be provided to farmers and fishermen to support our local agriculture and revive our agricultural economy. 

While the country's focus today is leaning towards curbing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, equal attention should also be devoted towards food supply and food security. Food security is equally essential to the survival of this nation, particularly that the economy continues to ail from the effects of the pandemic. 

Food security is paramount to the success of our pandemic response.

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About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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