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Aquino warned: Poverty, hunger trigger upheavals

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FOOD security advocates warned President Aquino against the brewing unrest among the growing number of poor who are experiencing involuntary hunger.

Task Force Food Sovereignty blamed the privatization of vital services and the Aquino administration’s pro-agribusiness policies.

Members of TFFS stormed Malacanang to press for genuine food security, which should begin with a pro-poor food and agriculture policies, Arze Glippo, TFFS lead convener said.

According to Glippo, the Aquino administration continues to espouse market-driven and corporate-friendly agriculture policies which place profit-making above the goal of providing food for all.

The group believes that the public private partnership model and large-scale private investments will place control over the country’s food production system in the hands of corporations and private investors who are more interested in producing cash crops and biofuels.

The group also said that the rising food prices, which in 2008 led to the first global food crisis in decades is something that the Aquino administration should worry about.

“High food prices, brought about by extreme weather and increasing financial speculation in food derivatives, coupled with dwindling rural incomes due to government’s decades-long neglect of agriculture are a major problem. Government needs to address this by increasing local palay procurement, shoring up rice reserves and maintaining quantitative restrictions on rice imports,” Glipo said.

According to TFFS, increased food price volatility and rising prices, a major global policy concern, should be seriously considered in reviewing the government’s plan to privatize the National Food Authority.

The food agency mandated to stabilize food prices, particularly rice, is an integral part of government’s policy intervention toolbox.

Glippo said that NFA should live up to expectations that it exist to ensure fair income for producers while protecting consumers, particularly the poor, from high food prices.

She said that privatizing the NFA now makes no sense.

The group said it is ironic that the country’s food producers themselves remain poor and could afford to buy their own produce.

TFFS said that the brewing discontent could snowball into the kind of unrest that brought down governments in other parts of the world. They reminded Mr. Aquino that high food prices have played a major part in past upheavals including the recent Arab Spring.

Published by: Business Mirror
Published on: Thursday, 18 October 2012 19:24



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