THE media release of the social weather stations explains their survey taken at the end of the first quarter of this year.
It says that the 9.5% hunger rate in March 2019 is one percentage point lower than the 10.5% (est. 2.4 million families) in December 2018.
According to the release, it “also marks the second consecutive quarter where there has been a decrease in Hunger from the one prior.
The quarterly Hunger in March 2019 is the sum of 8.1% (est. 2 million families) who experienced Moderate Hunger and 1.3% (est. 327,000 families) who experienced Severe Hunger.
Moderate Hunger refers to those who experienced hunger “Only Once” or “A Few Times” in the last three months, while Severe Hunger refers to those who experienced it “Often” or “Always” in the last three months.
Those who did not state their frequency of hunger (0.4% or est. 98,000 families) were classified under Moderate Hunger.”
These results taken from surveys may mean that government efforts to boost rice supply by recent imports are not only filling warehouses, but lowering food costs and enabling more families to buy food.
Not surprisingly, new rice stocks are available at almost half the price of local well milled rice. They are already bought at our supermarkets and are used as an extender to mix with well milled, more expensive local rice. Friends say that the result is ok.
Note that lower income families, even those living slightly above the poverty lines spend almost half of their food costs for rice alone. Lower rice costs means more food to eat.
Cheaper food also means lower inflation, something we have achieved as well in the last quarter.
These lower hunger numbers may also mean that the recent rice tarrification law that liberalizes rice imports may increase supply further, and lower prices even more.
In the end, as i have written before, supplying sufficient food rests not solely in assuring that storehouses are full or that local farmers are happy, but that the people can buy and partake of the food.
If we will need to import cheaper food to make sure that people have enough to eat, then that should be the case. This is because eradicating hunger is, and should be a continuing, and clear goal of every government.
We cannot talk of agricultural policy or protecting local food suppliers and farmers while millions remain under some form of hunger.
Eradicating hunger is consistent with every measure and approach to measure the people’s well being, from minimum basic needs to millennium development goals.
Let us not forget that.