Quezon City News
Quezon City to tackle food security problems
As the country grapples with a new viral disease that has started to beset the hog industry, Quezon City’s District 2 Councilor Fernando Miguel “Mikey” Belmonte, in his privilege speech, urges other members of the City Council to set out strategic policies that would address existing food security problems, including insufficient meat supply and price hike, which significantly affect the vulnerable and marginalized segment of the population.
“Even with this pandemic serving as our backdrop, we are faced yet again with another challenge...right at the beginning of 2021, each and every household has had to contend, on a daily basis, with the impact of rising prices of basic food commodities - further placing stress in the already limited household budgets,” Belmonte said.
While the virus that causes African swine fever (ASF) may only attack domestic and wild pigs, the proliferation of this highly contagious hemorrhagic disease in different parts of the country, most notably in Leyte, has resulted in grave economic and food production losses.
According to the National Statistics Authority, as of January, the total swine inventory was approximately 9.72 million heads, which was 24.1% below last year’s same period level of 12.80 million heads. Consequently, the decrease in supply coupled with the high consumer demand for meat products has led to a 60% price increase from P250.00 to 400.000 per kilo.
To address the rising food prices, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte issued Executive Order (EO) No. 124, imposing a mandated 60-day price ceiling on selected pork and chicken products in the National Capital Region (NCR).
“In the city level, we commend the immediate response of the city mayor to this pressing issue by ensuring that while a price cap is in place, affected vendors would be provided assistance for them to be able to cope and sustain their operations. Likewise, it should be mentioned that part of the previous and ongoing initiatives of the city government are geared toward addressing Food Security, especially with the issuance of the EO on Food Security last year, as well as sustaining the City Government’s own urban gardening program,” Belmonte pointed out.
With the ballooning city population, the first-term councilor recognizes the importance of providing long-term solutions that can help improve Quezon City’s food security problem by promoting viable programs for its citizens.
“I believe that food security concerns are complex, somehow comparable to our national concerns with rice. Resorting to importation alone, through increasing Minimum Access Volume (MAV) might be able to immediately improve supply and lower the price of pork in the short term, however, there have also been concerns to long term potential negative impacts to hog raisers. While we need [to] exert all effort to ensure access and affordability of pork and other quality food, we also need to ensure that we minimize potential unforeseen negative impacts,” Belmonte explained.
As the Chairman of the Committee on Trade Commerce and Industry, Belmonte saw the importance of policies that will not only address issues concerning swine and poultry products but also other basic goods. Thus, the neophyte councilor has proposed three ordinances, which are aimed to tackle rising food costs.
The said policies shall pave the way for the establishment of the Consumer Assistance and Protection Division (CAPD), which shall safeguard consumer welfare; the creation of the Quezon City Bantay Presyo Task Force, which shall help address deceptive pricing of basic and prime commodities; and the promotion of urban gardening in all barangays.
Moreover, Belmonte highlighted four guiding principles that the Quezon City Council may use as pillars to solve the soaring meat price problem.
“First, address the immediate need to manage the prices of pork and chicken - bringing them to reasonable levels. Second, ensure strict compliance of vendors to directives pertaining to the price cap on pork and other food products. Third, provide financial assistance or incentives to compliant meat vendors and retailers. Fourth, promote household-based food production in our communities…With the four policy points I mentioned, we can build our communities’ resiliency and adaptive capacity.” Belmonte stated.
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