The government is set and ready to implement its Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (EPAHP) program in various provinces in Central Luzon after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and farmers’ groups entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) through “virtual signing” at Clark, Pampanga last Friday.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Sunday said the administration was fully committed to ensuring food security and addressing hunger through programs that strengthen agricultural yield and increase the income of farmers.
“We would help our agricultural sector by supplying government entities such as penal institutions and public hospitals with harvested produce provided by our local farmers,” he said.
Based on the 2019 4th quarter Social Weather Station (SWS) survey, Nograles said 8.8 percent of households or roughly 2.1 million Filipino families experienced involuntary hunger once in three months, a slight improvement over the 9.1 percent and 2.3 million families logged in September 2019.
“The annual average hunger rate for 2019 is 9.3 percent compared to 10.8 percent in 2018. The December 2019 hunger rate is the supposed to be the lowest if the basis of comparison is the 7.4 percent from March 2004. But we of course also acknowledge the latest SWS results of 16.7 percent which reflect our current realities during the ongoing Covid-19 health situation. That’s why government is doubling its efforts at addressing food security,” Nograles said.
He acknowledged there is a need to ensure “availability, accessibility and capability” in the food and poverty campaign, which are the key focus of the EPAHP.
EPAHP, which traces its origins to successful programs of the DAR, Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Agriculture, is tied to the Sustainable Development Goals and the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022. President Rodrigo Duterte has made this initiative a priority in his administration’s poverty reduction efforts.
A key element of EPAHP is credit support for food production, processing, and marketing for community-based organizations through the Land Bank and other agencies.
“Our Inter-Agency Task Force Zero Hunger was formed under Executive Order 101 which aims to eliminate hunger by 2030. We will measure our success by how much we address food security, improve general nutrition and develop sustainable agriculture,” Nograles stressed.
Nograles said the MOU signing between DAR, BJMP and four Agrarian Reform Beneficiary Organizations (ARBOs) in Region 3 is a testament to EPAHP’s effectiveness.
“This agreement is nothing short of a milestone in the region,” he said. “We are strongly encouraging our community-based organizations and other ARBOs to participate in the program because joining ensures a steady market for farmers’ produce, aside from the crucial credit facilities on offer. Let’s all be partners in reducing hunger and in improving livelihood.”(PNA)