FISHER group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday criticized the government’s plan to launch a food stamp program, saying the Marcos administration must look beyond such “band-aid solution.”
In a statement, Pamalakaya National Spokesperson Ronnel S. Arambulo said the more long-term solution to ensure food security is boosting local agricultural production through subsidies.
“Our ailing rural sectors badly need direct economic subsidies, don’t get us wrong. But it would be more sustainable if the Marcos administration goes beyond band-aid solution, by implementing long-term holistic programs that aim to strengthen our local agri-fisheries production,” he said.
On Tuesday, Social Welfare Secretary Rexlon T. Gatchalian said his department plans to launch the pilot run of a food stamp program in July that would initially cover 3,000 families.
Over $3 million from the Asian Development Bank will be used for the six-month pilot run.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development will also be working with the United Nations World Food Program.
Under the food stamp program, beneficiaries will be provided with electronic cards with food credits worth P3,000 that they can use to buy selected food commodities from accredited sellers.
Mr. Arambulo called for a “long-term” and “concrete” support for local production, which will “ensure a stable supply and affordable food in the market.”
“With no actual support in sight, our fishers and farmers are currently battered with numerous economic crises including inflation that jack up the cost of production,” he said.
He also cited the three previous straight years of agri-fisheries losses, which he said resulted in increased prices of fisheries and marine products in the market that “put both the food producers and poor consumers at disadvantage.”
“It goes without saying that if you give someone a fish, you will save them for a day, but if you sufficiently support fishers and farmers, an entire country would be fed,” he said. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera