Groups say DSWD food stamps not enough, livelihood subsidy is better
MANILA, Philippines — Calling it a “band-aid solution,” fisherfolk and peasant groups said on Thursday that the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) food stamp program is not enough to curb hunger, seeking livelihood subsidies as a more sustainable alternative.
“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,” said Ronnel Arambulo, national spokesperson of fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya).
“Mas dapat bigyan pansin ng Department of Agriculture at ni Marcos Jr. ang agricultural production subsidy na P15,000 minimum per famer at fisherfolk. Palakasin ang local food production, hindi importasyon [The Department of Agriculture should focus on agriculture production subsidy worth P15,000 minimum per farmer and fisherfolk. Improve local food production not importation],” Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) president Danilo Ramos told Inquirer via text message.
Despite being a largely agricultural archipelago nation, fishers and farmers remain the Philippines’ poorest, according to January data by the Food and Fertilizer Technology Center for the Asian and Pacific Region (FFTC-AP).
The groups asserted that bolstering agricultural productivity will more certainly ensure stable, affordable food in the country’s markets.
Arambulo also raised that small fishers have been forced to “reduce, if not temporarily abandon” fishing due to spiking fuel prices.
“This low output results in high prices of fisheries and marine products in the market that put both the food producers and poor consumers at disadvantage,” he said.
“Unless the Marcos administration recognizes and addresses the roots of the food crisis, it won’t ultimately achieve local food security and self-sufficiency,” Arambulo added, maintaining that the Marcos administration has remained “shortsighted” in addressing the nation’s growing food crisis.