Around 32 provinces that have high hunger incidence will be given “special attention” in a bid to fulfill the current administration’s promise to reduce hunger by 25 percent when President Rodrigo Duterte’s term ends in 2022, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.

Nograles, who concurrently serves as chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Zero Hunger, said the Duterte administration, through concerned government agencies, will boost its anti-hunger efforts in 32 provinces that will serve as priority beneficiaries.

“If we prioritize the 32 priority provinces with highest incidence of hunger, I think we’ll be able to meet our goals.”

“One of our action plans is to prioritize the 32 priority provinces. Kasi kapag prioritized naming ‘yung (If we prioritize the) 32 priority provinces (with) highest incidence of hunger, I think we’ll be able to meet our goals,” the Cabinet official said in a media forum in Kamuning, Quezon City.

“Special attention ang ibibigay natin sa (We will give special attention to) 32 priority provinces which we’ve already mapped out and identified, based on high incidence of malnutrition, high incidence of hunger, and high incidence of teenage pregnancy,” he added.

Nograles did not identify the 32 priority provinces with high incidence of hunger.

The number of Filipinos who failed to meet their basic food needs due to inadequate income stands at 5.2 percent or 5.5 million Filipinos in 2018, down from 9.2 percent recorded in 2015, according to the data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

On Jan. 10, 2019, Duterte signed Executive Order 101, creating the IATF of Zero Hunger in an effort to meet the government’s goal to eradicate hunger and achieve food security in the country.

Member-agencies of the task force include the departments of Social Welfare, Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, Budget, Education, Environment, Health, Labor, Local Government, Trade, and Science; Presidential Communications Operations Office; National Economic and Development Authority; and, Commission on Higher Education.

The task force is mandated to ensure that government policies, initiatives, and projects on attaining zero hunger will be “coordinated, responsive, and effective.”

To achieve zero hunger in the Philippines by 2030, there should be a 25-percent reduction in hunger incidence every two and a half years, Nograles said.

Nograles acknowledged that much more still needs to be done to address hunger in the country.

He said the government is seeking a “faster and more synchronized” approach to drastically reduce hunger nationwide.

“I’m very confident that through government’s whole approach, we’ll be able to make great strides.” 

“I’m very confident naman na (that) through government’s whole approach, we’ll be able to make great strides and accomplish lahat (everything) within two years and few months to go sa termino ng Pangulong Duterte (under the President Duterte’s watch),” Nograles said.

The memorandum of understanding on the implementation of the Enhanced Partnership against Hunger and Poverty (EPAPH) program, the government’s main initiative to fight hunger nationwide, was also signed in December last year.

Under the EPAPH, priority programs include provisions for the institutional feeding programs; credit support to community-based organizations; and capacity-building and productivity improvement for community-based organizations.

The EPAPH also aims to push for nutrition education; establishment of agricultural facilities and technologies, food hubs, and other infrastructure facilities; mobilization of funding, technical and research assistance from development local partners; and advocacy and education.

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