The social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines called on the government to provide “stronger and more focused support” to the agriculture sector.
Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan, head of Caritas Philippines, urged the government to support farmers and fisherfolk “who remain until this time, the poorest sector in the country.”
The prelate said the global health crisis “compels us to ensure that each Filipino family is secured with ample supply of basic food requirements.”
“It can only be done if the agriculture sector is given priority,” said Bishop Bagaforo in a statement released on April 26.
The prelate said the government’s “social amelioration program” is “not efficiently solving our food security problem however we see it as a necessary short-cut solution.”
The program is a cash emergency subsidy for at least 18 million poor families affected by the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bishop Bagaforo cited various church-led programs on sustainable agriculture that can help address food insufficiency and the threats of an economic meltdown due to the global crisis.
He said church-led community farms “are helping deliver fresh vegetables to families severely affected by work suspension” in many places across the country.
He said the “Caritas Kindness Store” in several dioceses are also providing opportunities to local farmers to sell their harvests at fair prices.
The prelate said tsome “backyard gardening programs” in many places have “ensured food security at household level while providing additional stable income to farming families.”
Bishop Bagaforo said cash dole-outs alone cannot combat the negative economic impact of the pandemic.
“Our food industry needs to be supported most importantly by our agriculture sector,” he said.
“We will triumph in this crisis if we can ensure that no Filipino family experiences hunger,” added the bishop.