North Cot sets up Citizens' Food Watch

The group was formed after a forum-dialogue held Friday at the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) in Kabacan town, a known rice granary in North Cotabato.   

Food sufficiency, the group said, is the ability to produce enough food to support a population.
“But is there enough food for the nation?” asked one of the participants.

Abby Pato, lead convener of the Task Force on Food Sufficiency (TFFS) in Mindanao, said poverty and food insufficiency have disturbed many villagers, especially in areas where there is little or no development projects at all. 

“But despite various development-oriented efforts, many are still poor.  Poverty has not only persisted but worsened,” he said. 

These development initiatives, he added, have often displaced rural families from lands they have been cultivating. 

“Not only have the rural people been left with few employment options to support their livelihood, it has also become difficult to buy the food that they once used to produce themselves,” Pato explained.          

The Citizen Food Watch of North Cotabato, according to Pato, has signified its intent to strongly support the campaign on food sufficiency.          

The campaign is spearheaded by the TFFS, in coordination with USM and the Integrated Rural Development Foundation-Mindanao. 

There are ways to fight food insufficiency and poverty, government officials said. 

Dr. Hilario Antonio of the Malmar Irrigation Project in Pikit, North Cotabato, said the government must build roads, irrigation dams, and other infrastructures needed by the farmers.  

Antonio cited the construction of Malmar dam project, which is already 57 percent completed.  

If the dam becomes fully operational, it would benefit more than 20 thousand farmers from North Cotabato and Maguindanao.          

Food insufficiency can be reduced by encouraging farmers to use high-yielding varieties, according to Rodel Mañara, chair of the North Cotabato Provincial Agriculture and Fisheries Council. 

Fernando Nunez, administrator of the National Food Authority, said government has allotted some P100 million for the development of upland and white corn production. 

“The plan will address food security problems,” he said.

Nunez has also proposed a bio-mass furnace for seed dryers and acknowledged the need for construction of grain storage facility in North Cotabato with a capacity of 30,000 bags. (Malu Cadelina-Manar/MindaNews)