More people hunger, but not duw to ‘food scarcity’ – Ibon

Gov’t data show wages insufficient to to meet food needs

In the midst of reports that the country needs to import further to address tight rice supply, government data shows that more Filipino families went hungry because they were unable to buy enough food.

Official government data revealed that 14.6% of Filipinos were not able to meet their basic subsistence or food needs, from 13.5% in 2003. This means that 12.2 million Filipinos were starving in 2006, up from 10.8 million in 2003.

“Many Filipinos are unable to meet their basic food needs because the daily minimum wage has not kept up with rising cost of living,” said IBON executive editor Rosario Bella Guzman. From 2001 to 2007, the real value of the daily minimum wage in Metro Manila has grown by less than one percent or from P246 in 2001 to P249 in 2006, even as food prices have increased by 21.5% over the same period.

Worse, the number of Filipinos who were unable to meet their basic food needs could be understated, given low food threshold figures. According to the official food threshold, a Filipino in 2006 needed only P27.47 a day (national average) to meet his or her food needs, or P137.35 for an average Filipino family with five members.

This was substantially lower than official estimates of food expenses in the NWPC living wage, which said an individual needed P33.52 in 2006 to meet his or her food needs or P167.60 for a family of five.

“There is food crisis, but only in so far as trade, especially of rice, is monopolized. More than the tight rice supply, however, the problem lies in the inability of an increasing number of Filipinos to earn enough to feed themselves and their families,” said Guzman.

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