The rice shortage in Zambasulta have awakened the public’s concern on food security. Issues on rice importation, rice smuggling, and corruption, have been linked to this concern afterwards. Sky-high prices of rice also continue to challenge the people of Zambasulta.
This rising concern on rice is a manifestation that our government, and relevant stakeholders of the agriculture sector: ALL OF US, should prioritize and give importance to food security initiatives for our country. Not just on rice, but to basic food products like fish, meat, vegetables, and fruits.
- Consider alternatives for our rice-based diet
Rice is life. However, we need to find and adopt alternatives that can substitute to our rice-based diets as early as now. Corn, cassava, vegetables, and fruits, are good and healthy alternatives that may substitute to our love for rice. These are also easy to grow. We can even grow these, especially vegetables, at the convenience of our own homes.
2. Risk management planning on food shortage
Our food system is dynamic and vulnerable to risks. As a basic human need, development of the food and agriculture sector should be prioritized by relevant stakeholders. Risk management plans during food shortages should be a priority of our government. This is to effectively prepare solutions and mitigate the public’s burden during food shortage scenarios.
3. Developing innovative food and agriculture technologies for vulnerable areas
ZamBaSulta for example, being composed of island provinces, is vulnerable to rice shortage. Rice – being grown mostly on plains of landlocked areas, are also being grown in island provinces, however, the production is not enough to cater to its people. That’s why rice importation is being practiced in these areas, to cater to the needs of the people.
Developing agricultural technologies that can add value to the existing food resources on island provinces can mitigate rice shortage issues. Developing seaweed for example as a possible substitute for rice, can be a long-term solution for rice shortages in island-provinces.
4. Strategic rice bagsakans that values fairtrade
Rice bagsakans, or rice trading centers located in strategic areas of provinces, can also be a long-term solution to avoid rice shortage scenarios. These rice bagsakans should buy the rice produce of small-scale farmers on the value of fairtrade. Fairtrade, is a win-win scenario for both the producer and consumer, since it is about paying fair prices to our farmers who have worked hard for their products. Fairtrade is humane for our farmers, compared to our current trading system through middlemen .
5. No to Rice Smuggling
Smuggling is illegal, and a threat to our economy. Smuggled rice is also a big insult for small-scale farmers who are working very hard to produce rice and other agricultural commodities. Smuggling should not be tolerated, but must be totally removed from our food value chain.
6. Protect agricultural lands from commercialization
We can grow food, but we can’t grow lands. Our agricultural lands are decreasing. As an agricultural nation, this is very alarming. Most agricultural lands are now turned into commercial areas. Relevant decision-makers of our agriculture sector should consider making policies on protecting our remaining agricultural lands.
Our broken food system needs to be revitalized and fixed. It’s the way we should go.
What solutions can you think of? Share it with us!
ABOUT THE WRITER: Christine Jodloman is an agriculture and food security advocate. For writing collaborations, you may contact her at email@example.com.