Agriculture Secretary William Dar highlighted the importance of food security in ensuring food sovereignty as he called on universities and other academic institutions to urge legislators to provide much-needed substantial budgetary support to the Department of Agriculture to enable it to unlock the full potential of Philippine agriculture.
The DA differentiated food security from food sovereignty by saying while the former relates to the protection of current food systems, the latter refers to the many components and measures in mitigating hunger and poverty, including production, distribution and consumption, and the actual food system itself.
It stressed that food sovereignty calls for trade and investment activities, and promotes control over resources, agrarian reform and tenure of security for small-scale producers, agroecology and biodiversity, among others.
“Rooted at the grassroots food movements, food sovereignty involves the participation of not only the food producers but the citizens as well,” the DA said. Dar added that the participation of the private sector is crucial in attaining the food targets of the government.
During a recent visit at the University of the Philippines Los Baños last week, Dar and UPLB Chancellor Jose Camacho, Jr. signed agreements for collaborative programs which will support the local production of seeds and biotechnology input, as well as the intensified crop production efforts of the government. Dar welcomed the partnership, saying with all the challenges local agriculture is facing, it is high time for the government to invest so that the country may attain food sovereignty and not depend heavily on imports.
“We can produce our own food if we unlock the potential of agriculture by providing a significant budget and funds so that science and technology, as well as research and development, can grow side-by-side,” Dar said.
The MOU between the DA and UPLB is expected to strengthen the public sector network of government, private sector, farmers, and other stakeholders to supply the national requirement on seeds and biotechnology inputs as well as support the research for development on seeds technologies and biotechnology. Such initiatives that could’ve secured the country’s food sovereignty should’ve been started long ago but it is better late than never for our government to decide to move from ensuring food security to sovereignty, especially during these challenging times when the world is still recovering from the COVID-10 pandemic and the effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Let us wish the Department of Agriculture and whoever will take over the best of luck as we chart the country’s future food systems.*