Gov’t, UNDP urge LGUs to launch alternative food production projects

April 1, 2010 10:08 pm 

MANILA, April 1 — As farmers in provinces hard hit by the El Niño dry spell fight to save what remains of their standing crop, the Arroyo administration and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) are urging local governments to ensure alternative food sources at the community level by starting food production projects for the poor in backyards and public schools.

Secretary Domingo F. Panganiban of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) said that while government has commenced an P882-million program to mitigate the effects of El Niño on Filipino farm and fisheries sectors, reports of mounting damage to agriculture across the country indicate that it will have a telling impact on domestic food supplies.

He said farmers in South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato and Sarangani have already issued formal requests for assistance from the national government in the face of the prolonged dry spell.

He said the national government is now working to expand a UNDP-funded program designed to establish sustainable food production systems for the poor at the community level.

“The success of the NAPC-UNDP ‘Sapat at Masustansyang Pagkain sa Bawa’t Tahanan’ (SAPAT) project in Abra and Kalinga provinces has encouraged plans for expansion projects in Pangasinan and Metro Manila,” he said.

UNDP Country Director Renaud Meyer said the SAPAT Program addresses the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of cutting hunger by half by 2015 through the development of projects to expand the food base at the community and household levels.

“The poor are always the first to suffer from disruptions in the flow of food supply. The SAPAT program provides a solution by affording impoverished families the assistance they need to raise vegetables, root and tuber crops, and native chicken in backyards and communal gardens,” Meyer said.

Local officials, non-government organizations and civic groups should look into the possibility of establishing similar food production systems elsewhere in the country, the UNDP official added. (PNA) scs/PR/jme

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