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Phl to build P40B food security war chest

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A forecast model by the Department of Agriculture warns rice output to contract by 1.1 million metric tons this year, worsening the food security crisis and could lead to runaway inflation. | photograph courtesy of pngegg

With only a few days before the changing of the guards in Malacañang, the Duterte administration is trying to secure up to P40 billion in its war chest to meet the urgent need for food security worsened by the war in Ukraine and the pandemic-fueled supply chain crisis.

In a radio interview on Saturday, the Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Fermin Adriano called for a united action to tackle the challenge of food security posed by the coronavirus, climate change, conflicts and looming rice shortage amid the skyrocketing fertilizer prices.

“The food crisis, which is an aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, might be felt towards the end of the year,” Adriano warned and said consumers would feel the crisis by the end of the year if the issue will not be immediately resolved by the incoming administration of President-in-waiting Bongbong Marcos.

“We are giving a warning to the next administration. We do not know if the rice supply in the second half of the year will be enough. If we do not give aid to farmers for fertilizer, there might be a problem,” he added.

Global food problem

The geopolitical developments across the Pacific aggravate the already difficult situation of food security.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari addressed the “Global Food Security Call to Action” Ministerial Meeting in New York and said that hunger does not recognize between nations, nor does it distinguish your skin color. Climate catastrophe, he said, does not recognize ethnicity.

In Washington, American Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a UN Security Council meeting organized by the United States, accused Russia of blocking the exports of Ukrainian grain. Ukraine is the world’s number one source of wheat.

“Stop blocking the ports in the Black Sea. Allow for the free flow of ships and trains and trucks carrying food out of Ukraine,” Blinken said.

“Stop threatening to withhold food and fertilizer exports from countries that criticize your war of aggression.”

He went on to say, “The food supply for millions of Ukrainians and millions more around the world has quite literally been held hostage by the Russian military.”

Palay supply

Back home, Adriano warned of an impending rice shortage caused by low output.

He cited an estimate model by the agriculture department forecasting a contraction of 1.1 million metric tons in palay or paddy rice output.

To avert the adverse economic impact of this projection, he said about P30 to P40 billion is needed to secure a sufficient supply of the main staple.

Adriano added the DA would ramp up its seed production to give away for free to farmers.

Data from the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority showed that the average retail price of prilled urea fertilizer per 50-kilo bag from 9 to 13 May stood at P2,982.97, more than doubling the P1,156.64 average price a year ago.

The average price of granular urea rose to P2,991.50 year-on-year from P1,107.57, while amosul was priced at P1,455.73 or more than twice the P649.62 price per 50-kilo bag a year ago.

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