Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles described the government’s anti-hunger efforts as a lasting gift to the Filipino people but noted that there is more to be done in the country’s quest for zero hunger.

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Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Nograles made the remark during the virtual launching of the National Food Policy initiative last week.

In his remarks, Nograles, who heads the government’s Zero Hunger Task Force, said that the government’s anti-hunger program is envisioned to have a long-term effect.

“The Duterte administration envisions the anti-hunger, anti-poverty program as a lasting gift to the Filipino people, a legacy that should be enjoyed by generations to come,” he said.

He, however, said that the government needs to do more in order to achieve the goal of zero hunger in the Philippines.

“Overall, the data shows we need to do more work to address the issue. That’s why the Zero Hunger Task Force formulated the National Food Policy (NFP) to serve as a policy roadmap moving forward,” he said.

In an online consultation attended by 49 non-government organization officers, and stakeholders, Nograles discussed the concrete steps undertaken by the government to address the hunger problem under the existing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Malacañang official explained that President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 101 creating the Inter-Agency Task Force on Zero Hunger to better implement a coordinated inter-agency effort under the “whole-of-government approach” to combat hunger and achieve food security.

Nograles added that the task force’s thrust is consistent with the aim of establishing sustainable agriculture as prescribed by the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In a statement, Nograles said that hunger remains a challenge for the country, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on the latest Social Weather Stations Mobile Survey, there are an estimated 7.6 million hungry families or 30.7 percent hunger rate as of September 2020.

The level of food access uncertainty rose from 53.9 percent in 2018 to 64.1 percent in 2019, based on figures from the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute’s 2019 Expanded National Nutrition Survey.

Nograles, however, clarified that before the global health crisis, the 2019 4th quarter numbers showed only an 8.8 percent incidence of involuntary hunger in the previous three months.

The NFP laid down six key result areas that shall determine and address issues involving review of current policies, ensuring a steady supply of food during emergencies, access to food and agricultural resources, as well as education and information campaigns to get more citizens involved in the program.

“The NFP is ambitious but doable, that’s why we strongly encourage the participation of stakeholders from the private sector NGOs, religious groups, and various other stakeholders to truly make it effective,” Nograles said.

“Addressing hunger and poverty is every Filipino’s concern. The NFP’s success, in a sense, will be everyone’s legacy to the next generation,” he added.

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