Quezon City, 06 October 2017 – In the lead up to World Food Day, marked annually every 16th of October, a group of concerned farmers, consumers, producers, educators, and non-government, civil society and peoples’ organizations, have gathered together to call on the government to address the country’s food emergency situation.

“We have gathered today not only to celebrate an occasion meant to educate and inspire people to take action for those who are hungry, but to put the spotlight on the best practices by groups and individuals, including governance initiatives at the local level, that have already been successful and proven effective,” said Ramon Padilla of the Peoples Food Movement.

The group earlier submitted to Malacañang a proposed Executive Order that calls for the formation of a Food Cluster under the government’s Cabinet Cluster System.  The group believes this will help address the urgent need for greater coherence, convergence and synergy of the various programs of government on food, which are presently governed under different departments and agencies, so that all the policies and programs will be shifted towards a sustainable and ecological system.

“The country is facing a food emergency, and the Duterte Administration should give this priority,” said Virginia Benosa Lllorin, Food and Ecological Agriculture Campaigner of Greenpeace Philippines. “We have a case of double burden malnutrition where 30% of Filipino children aged 5-10 years are underweight and stunted, while more than 30% of Filipino adults aged 20 and above are overweight [1]. Our farmers and fishers — they who produce our food — remain to be the poorest among the sector [2].  Our farmers are aging and they do not want their children to go into farming.  What will happen to the country if we lose our farmers?” Llorin added.

The group says that while it recognizes government efforts to address food security concerns, these are not enough to curtail the continuing failings of the country’s current food system. The group’s proposed EO points to the country needing “sustainable and ecological food systems that will advance the rights of the people to healthy and culturally appropriate food, produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and upholds the Filipinos’ rights, instead of corporations, to be able to define our own food and agriculture systems.”

A petition has been put up at online petition site urging President Duterte to issue the EO [3]. The groups are also calling on local government units to set up local food councils, as well as food plans and programs consistent with initiatives of the League of Organic Agriculture Municipalities and Cities (LOAMC).

The gathering, dubbed as “Sibol: The Journey Towards Sustainable Food System”, featured exhibits, activities and presentations that showed the many efforts of groups and individuals who are challenging the status quo by promoting healthy and nutritious food through the advancement of ecological agriculture and the protection of the environment. The Peoples Food Movement (PFM), in partnership with LOAMC and the #IAmHampasLupa Youth Campaigners convened the various sectors for the event.