Food security

All these sorry excuses only point out the fact we haven’t done a serious thorough examination of the structural maladies of our economy regarding food.

Hardy Filipino fishermen are doing more against rising inflation than those swathed in banker's barong.

Droves of Filipino fishermen fishing in Bajo de Masinloc's fish-rich waters, while being mindfully shadowed by the Philippine Coast Guard, bring down or at least stabilize domestic prices of fish in Luzon.

Now, looking hard at our present circumstances, we find that stabilizing prices with a steady and ample supply of fish — or for that matter, other basic foodstuffs — is the crucial key by which runaway inflation can be licked.

As such, it's frankly not so much than about Bangko Sentral's interest rates.

Solely focusing on interest rates — a monetarist perspective that views inflation as the result of an increase in the money supply in the country — is narrowly constricting and worries only the rich.

Besides this, we should also be wary about seeing our current inflation woes as nothing else but the outcome of outside factors. Beyond the Central Bank's ken, as it is commonly excused.

Excusing our woes with food and fuel price arising solely from either the Ukraine war or the ongoing price-gouging of greedy businessmen is too superficial.

Particularly if done without having solutions like honest monitoring and regulating of domestic consumer prices, alongside other measures safeguarding the supply of essential goods and services.

All these sorry excuses only point out the fact we haven't done a serious thorough examination of the structural maladies of our economy regarding food.

So, the real culprit then about our present inflation woes is the fact we really haven't been producing enough food on our own. We have a food security problem.

A fact that has rendered all of us extremely vulnerable to supply chain disruptions of foodstuffs we import and prevented local food supply-side measures which could have brought food prices down.

Although no country can claim complete reliance on its resources to feed its people, our country must develop and maintain our own food security within our borders.

We really need to begin structural reforms of our economy.

In the meantime, however, we should at least try in any which way we can to resolve our present food woes.

Which is why we should cheer the PCG. It may seem the PCG has nothing to do with food security.

But by sending in recent weeks two of its more modern vessels to assist or protect our audacious fishermen in Bajo de Masinloc we now have better prospects of having more affordable fish on our tables.

The PCG says the numbers of local fishing vessels out there in Bajo de Masinloc were positively "overwhelming." The PCG hopes to see more Filipino fishermen out there.

"We encourage our fisherfolk to come here at Bajo de Masinloc and other parts of the West Philippine Sea. It's for our food security," said PCG spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo, said.

Yet, even if the reoriented PCG is doing what it can do for our fishermen, they will be flukes if other government agencies aren't also devising quick remedial measures regarding food.

This is even if it so happens an agency is remotely connected with food issues.

The Education Department, for instance, can immediately launch with the help of school kids a massive vegetable growing program in public schools.

Or the military establishment, in coordination with the Trade department, can provide free transport of agricultural produce from farms to markets in urban areas.

Government-subsidized transport not only relieves farmers from skyrocketing fuel costs but also does wonders against the price gouging of middlemen.

Many other novel ways to address food production issues beyond the usual can be thought of. But all must be done with a sense of urgency and quickly.

Not doing quick fixes to dampen or contain recent food price pressures tend to spur discontent all around, mind you.

In Pulse Asia Research Inc.'s survey last month, managing inflation was the top priority for Filipinos, and nearly half disapproved of this government's performance.


Daily Tribune