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Cebu News

Execs cite initiative in local food production promotion

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman
Execs cite initiative in local food production promotion
“This initiative not only fosters technological innovation but also contributes to strengthening the agricultural sector by enhancing efficiency and competitiveness,” said Solidum in a press conference.

CEBU, Philippines — Department of Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. emphasized the role of the Food Innovation Center initiative in promoting local food production.

“This initiative not only fosters technological innovation but also contributes to strengthening the agricultural sector by enhancing efficiency and competitiveness,” said Solidum in a press conference.

Solidum also cited the role of local partners in guiding farmers and fisherfolks in adopting innovations.

He encapsulated the essence of scientific advancement, as he summarized the transformative potential of science and technology in improving the lives of farmers and fisherfolks and contributing to overall societal progress.

Solidum delivered an opening statement during the Visayas Regional Scientific Meeting (RSM) in Cebu City, which is the final event in a series of regional scientific meetings held throughout the country in 2024.

Attended by over 300 scientists, academicians and other sector, the meeting serves as a critical platform for scientists to foster camaraderie and exchange of knowledge in science and technology.

This year’s theme, “Beyond Farm Productivity: Transforming the Philippine Food System to Address Equity, Consumer Health, and Environmental Issues,” underscores the importance of a holistic approach to food systems in the Philippines.

The Visayas RSM aims to drive meaningful dialogue and innovative solutions to transform the Philippine food system.

National Nutrition Council-7 regional nutrition program coordinator Dr. Parolita Mission in her presentation entitled, “The nerf for food systems transformation towards improved nutrition and health” said that Philippine food system has been weakened in the previous years due to internal and external factors, including climate/weather disturbances, pest and animal diseases, and increased competition.

Currently, she said, there are challenges in health and nutrition situation as results of the weakened food system like in terms of national hunger situation, adding the result of the Social Weather Stations' Survey on Hunger revealed that in the first quarter of 2023, 9.8% or about 2.7 million Filipino families experienced involuntary hunger due to the lack of food.

“Although this was a decrease from the December 2022 levels of 11.8% (3 million Filipino families), it must be noted that these values are still higher than the 8.8% hunger rate prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mission said.

She said that the prevalence of malnutrition - undernutrition (stunting, wasting, and underweight), overnutrition (obesity and overweight), and micronutrient deficiencies, is exacerbated by the current food system and environment in the country.

“There is a great need for a holistic approach towards transformed food system to improve our health and nutrition situation. Particularly, we may contribute by having improved consumer feeding behavior and practices,” she said.

In the same press conference, Dr. Roehlano Briones, keynote speaker and senior research fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, lauded DOST's collaborative efforts with the Department of Agriculture, highlighting impactful programs such as the Magsasakang Siyensista ng Bayan and the FITS Program.

Briones also underscored the significance of highlighting income opportunities to incentivize farmers to embrace technological advancements, recognizing the pivotal role of economic incentives in driving adoption and sustainability.

Dr. Jaime Montoya, president of the National Academy of Science and Technology-Philippines, likewise emphasized the importance of revolutionizing science communication, advocating for the use of digital technologies to disseminate scientific knowledge to a wider audience.

This approach, Montoya said aligns with NAST's resolution to enhance science communication and policy dissemination, ensuring broader accessibility and understanding of scientific advancements.

Drawing from his extensive experience in technology transfer, DOST-7 regional director Jesus Zamora highlighted the importance of simplifying technology information to ensure accessibility and relevance to local communities.

This approach, Zamora said is coupled with the conduct of technology needs assessments, enables targeted solutions tailored to community concerns.

Solidum added that the two-days meetings should magnify what is beyond farm production to address equity, consumer health, and environmental issues.

The meetings are also a platform to introduce and promote the newest agricultural technologies and approaches tailored to achieve the goal of decentralizing production mechanisms in the status quo and should serve as a platform for the government to identify entry points for initiatives and policies to transform the country’s food system.

In line with this, Solidum said that it is urgent to recognize and address the issues that concern the components of the food system and identify how we can provide interventions and alternatives, most importantly, in the aspect of consumption.

“These interventions should prioritize the diversification of farm activities that help expand nutritious food choices and open up opportunities for value-adding among farm and fisherfolk communities. With this in mind, we need to recognize and address the issues that concern the components of the food system and identify how we can provide interventions and alternatives on the consumption aspect,” Solidum further said. — (FREEMAN)

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