Author: Rex L. Navarro
Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Philippine Statistics Authority.
Through the years, food security and self-sufficiency especially in rice has been a cherished dream of the Philippines. Since the inception of Masagana 99, which made the country self-sufficient in rice for a while in the late 1970s, the government has launched a succession of programs aimed at attaining self-sufficiency in the staple.
Public awareness of the urgent imperative of national food security was recently heightened by media coverage of the issue of rice importation. This burning issue emerged with President Duterte’s statement on the National Food Authority’s procurement from Filipino farmers at a time of peak harvest. Rice importation was highlighted by the clamor of food security experts to shore up the country’s buffer stock of the staple especially for the coming lean months.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization states that “food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” When this access is denied, social unrest can be sparked. (For instance, in 2008 when there was a spike in food prices, there were riots and unrest in various parts of the world.) Thus, aside from terrorism and other external challenges, food insecurity is a significant threat to national security. Sustainable food security is therefore an indispensable requisite to national security.