Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Collaboration: Key To Food Security


RAMON S. ABADILLA, Managing Director,
Du Pont Philippines, presented food security
status in the Philippines at the Asean Media Forum.
The Asean journalists who attended the Asean Media
Forum on Food Security in Singapore on July 27, 2012.
The Philippine  journalists include Riza Olchondra of the
Inquirer, Donna Gatdula of Philippine Star, and Zac B.
Sarian of the Manila Bulletin.
Multinational companies like DuPont are contributing to world
food security by developing improved rice and other crop varieties
that are not only high-yielding but also possess other desirable traits.
CARL LUKACH, DuPont East Asia President  (right),
with Zac B. Sarian at the Singapore Asean Media Forum
on Food Security, July 27, 2012.
Collaboration of every player is needed for the attainment of food security in every country. Not the government alone. Nor the multinational companies.  Not the farmers by themselves. Not the academicians. Not the traders and everyone else. The desired food security could be achieved only when everybody chips in his share in the process.
  
That’s the essence of the Asean Media Forum on Food Security organized by DuPont, the global science company, in Singapore last July 27.

At the Forum Pratibha Thaker of the Economist Intelligence Unit presented the result of their study on the Global Food Security Index 2012 which was commissioned by DuPont. The study covered 105 countries, measuring the degree of how food-secure or how food-insecure is one country.

Thaker reported that the most food-secure countries in the world are the US, Denmark, Norway, France and the Netherlands. In these countries, there is ample supply of food and the people have high incomes. They spend just a small portion of their incomes on food. The countries also invest a lot in agricultural research.

Just as important as the volume of food is the quality and safety of the food they eat. Eating too much of the wrong food can lead to problems like  obesity, for instance. Some rich nations, like Germany, suffer from inadequate micronutrients in their diets.

Of course, the big problem in the developing and underdeveloped countries is that there’s not enough food available to the masses. There may actually be available food in the market but then many of the people can’t afford to buy them. People in both the rural and urban areas spend a big portion of their meager incomes on food. Ramon S. Abadilla, managing director of Du Pont Philippines, reported that up to more than 43.3% of the family’s income in the country is spent on food.

The Food Security Index developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), says Carl Lukach, president of DuPont East Asia, is a useful tool for government policymakers, NGOs, academicians, researchers and farmers’ organizations in addressing food security concerns. It highlights areas for improvement and reform.
  
In the Philippines, what should the government initiate to enhance food security? Time and again, they have been talking about farm-to-market roads, irrigation, marketing linkages and others.
  
Personally, we think the government should do a better job in extension work. There are many doable technologies on improved farming which are not being effectively disseminated to the small farmers who need them most.

One of the best ways to increase total agricultural production in the country is to enable the multitude of small farmers even just to increase their production by 10 percent. That way the country’s total agricultural output will be significantly increased. There are many doable farming practices which can be taught to the farmers. But the extension workers have to be creative in showing the farmers that it pays to adopt those innovations. The local government units should also show genuine interest in pursuing agricultural programs.
  
Some private seed companies in the Philippines, including Pioner Hi-Bred, are doing a good job in disseminating their new technologies to the farmers. Their own technicians are well equipped with their technical knowledge so that they are effective in doing extension work. What the Department of Agriculture and the local government units should do is to train their own agriculturists in creative extension work. 

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