Poverty, food and nutrition insecurity remain as critical problems in the Philippines. The average Filipino in 1997 needed an annual income of at least P7710 to meet food requirements or P11 319 to meet both food and non‐food requirements. Approximately 4 511 000 families (31.8%) are poor and most of these are in the rural areas. Economic growth in the country has been characterized as a ‘boom and bust’ cycle with growth derailed by a combination of natural calamities, adverse domestic political factors, energy shortages, and external shocks such as the Asian currency crisis. In 1988 the gross national product (GNP) reached a peak of 7.2% and then declined to less than 1% in 1991. The economy started to recover in 1992, and the GNP peaked at 7.2% in 1996. The Asian financial crisis, compounded by the drought in 1998, led to a fall in the output of the agricultural sector by 6.6%. A stronger world economy, however, in 1999 helped the Philippine economy to recover. The Food Balance Sheet 1997 indicates that there has been a steady increase in the aggregate net food supply in 1992−1997 with the cereals group contributing approximately 25% of the total food supply. Translating this into calorie supply, this has provided approximately 2400 kcal/person per day or approximately 25% more than 2000 kcal/day. The fact that mean per capita intake is low indicates a gap between supply, distribution and consumption. The 1998 Food and Nutrition Research Institute survey showed that nutritional deficiencies still persist. Among 0−5‐year‐old children, underweight was approximately 32.0%; stunting 34.0% and wasting 6.0%. Underweight among 6−10‐year‐olds was 30.2% while stunting was 40.8%. Vitamin A deficiency, iron deficiency anaemia and iodine deficiency disorder continue as public health concerns. Food security and poverty alleviation are among the top priority programmes. The Medium‐Term Philippine Development Plan (1999−2004) enunciates the country's vision of creating a modern and humane society through improved quality of life characterized by food‐secure and poverty‐free Filipinos, in an ecologically healthy state. The different government programmes are the following: the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997 provides the blueprint for developing and modernizing the agriculture and fisheries sectors; the National Anti‐Poverty Alleviation Commission was created as the coordinating and advisory body for the implementation of poverty eradication programmes of the different sectors; the vision of the Medium‐Term Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition is of a nutritionally improved country whose people are well nourished, healthy, intelligent, and socially and economically productive with a strong sense of human dignity.

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