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Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 18:13:29 +0800
Sender: Southeast Asia Discussion List <SEASIA-L@LIST.MSU.EDU>
From: Steve Graw <smg7@CORNELL.EDU>
Subject: FWD: PH: Hunger in a place of unrest (Mindanao)

Millions lack food in RP's next food basket, says study

By Jowel Canuday, PDI Mindanao Bureau, 8 April 1999

DAVAO CITY—Mindanao, which President Estrada vowed to transform into the country's next food basket, is suffering from shortage in rice for the last three years.

Farmers and food producers in the region's rice producing provinces are also suffering from chronic hunger, said a study prepared by private groups.

These are two of the major findings of a study prepared by a Mindanao-based private research group titled Mindanao's Major and Non Major-Rice Producers and Consumers—an Introspect of the Food Security Situation at the Household Level.

The study, conducted by the Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao (Afrim), rated as not food secure rice farmers and consumers in the island's richest rice-producing provinces.

Farmers and consumers even in non-major rice producing areas were also suffering from lack of food.

Food security

The study touched on the food situation both of rice producers or farming families and consumers in top rice producing areas such as North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat, and Davao del Norte, a non-major rice-producing province.

The study noted that while there was a surplus in palay production in all three areas, including Davao del Norte, the total rice production in Mindanao was not enough to support the island's needs.

Quoting records from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the study said Mindanao's 24 provinces and 20 cities suffered a rice deficit … from a low of 7.5 percent or 139,645 metric tons to a high of 33.4 percent or 718,544 MT from 1995-1998.

The study also indicated that Mindanao's rice sufficiency or the level of rice production compared to population growth dropped from 90 percent in 1995 to 66 percent last year.

This means the growth in the supply of rice could barely catch up with the growth in population in the region.

Population growth

The island's population grew from 16.2 million in 1995 based on actual census made by the National Statistics Office to the an estimated 17.3 million in 1998.

Farming families and consumers in the provinces of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Norte were found to be not food secure in terms of availability of supply.

The families, the study said, also could not afford to buy food, even if food was available in some areas.

It showed that farming households are also having difficulty in meeting the P7,525 yearly or P21 daily requirement for a person to survive on one meal a day.

The study called this amount food threshold, or the annual per capita income required or amount spent to satisfy a person's nutritional requirements of 2,000 calories per day.

Afrim said the annual income of farmer families in these areas ranges from P2,996.71 to P6,619.98.

The study noted a shift in consumption patterns, with farming families subsisting on root crops or bananas instead of rice or corn.

‘Critical food problems’

This, according to the study, is an indication of critical food problems.

The shift in food consumption was usually associated with the level of economic difficulty the family was experiencing, the study said.

Poverty incidence among farming households in Davao del Norte, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat has increased, the study continued.

Davao del Norte had the highest number of families considered poor with 80 percent of its population in 1996-1998 falling in the category of families living below the poverty line.

Davao del Norte has a population of about 1.1 million.

In North Cotabato, the number of people living below the poverty line was estimated to be between 57.7 to 77.5 percent of the population.

The province has a population of 862,666, according to government statistics.

In Sultan Kudarat, half of the population could barely survive day-to-day living. The province has a population of 522,187.

Health problems

Food problems in these areas have also led to health problems, said the study.

The study said malnutrition and nutrition deficiency were prevalent in Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato.

The research group recommended the creation of a multisectoral council to address the worsening food insecurity problems and avert a food crisis in Mindanao.