Words by: Michaela “Mica” Acero
Graphics by: Katrina Tan
Photo by: Denisse Co
Much like many of you, I love food (and I’m not picky!). There’s something about seeing a steaming plate head towards you that just brightens up the senses. Well, to me at least. However, when I attended the 14th Philippine Food Expo press briefing a few days ago, my eyes were opened to a different side of the food I so love—the issues the local food industry has been experiencing over the past years.
In the press briefing, we met Mr, Roberto Amores, the president of Philfoodex which is the company that spearheads the annual food expo. He told us about how the annual expo showcases local producers, manufacturers, and companies that all work towards the improvement of the food industry’s crops, equipment, and even packaging. Above all, the expo itself aims to show all its visitors the positive and negative aspects of the situation of the local food industry. Other than just talking about the expo itself though, Mr. Amores touched on the various problems pressing the food industry, and how this affects each of us.
And girl, let me tell you, this industry has more issues than Vogue! Thank goodness though because not all is lost—there are still multiple ways we can all contribute to solving these. Below are three of the issues our local food industry is facing right now as well as some small solutions that each of us (even a teen like me!) can take part in.
3. We import more than we export
To put it quite simply, we’re buying (and consuming) more imported goods rather than consuming and shipping out more of our #homegrown ones. This not only means that we don’t support local as much as we should, but also that the agriculture sector, in particular, literally can’t take the capacity of the country’s demands while also giving other countries a piece of our own pie.
The solution: Support local! Yes, we’ve heard this many times but it remains to be true! Through buying local goods rather than the imported ones (like why buy imported bananas from the grocery when we have ours right alongside it?), we will not only be paying for the work the farmers, manufacturers, and distributors put into the product, but we’ll also be continuing the cycle of producing and selling (more money to makers = more food for all of us!).
2. The agriculture sector lacks productivity (cue the sad face)
I’m sure we can all relate to this…I mean, have you ever felt like you spent a whole eight hours in school and had all your textbooks and you still weren’t able to absorb anything? Similar to this #StudentLyf struggle, the Philippines as a whole has a great number of arable (good for planting) land and yet we aren’t fully maximizing this. According to Mr. Amores, this is because we lack proper planning and execution to truly use the land to its full potential.
The solution: We can make use of our own resources and businesses (or future businesses) to invest in farming innovations, or even to come up with these ourselves. Technology and farming can go hand in hand because gone are the days of carabao farming; it’s the 21st century, after all!
1. We really, REALLY lack farmers!
Did you know that the current average age of Filipino farmers is around 58 years old? That means the current younger generation hasn’t been going into farming, like, at all. This could be because most of us have been going into more technical jobs like being call center agents and tech support providers.
The solution: Get rid of the stigma! Farming should no longer be viewed as a “poor man’s job” especially with the rise of fair-trade manufacturers and the numerous possibilities for innovation. Being a farmer should instead be viewed as the noble profession that it is; farmers are like modern-day superheroes that work tirelessly to feed millions—shouldn’t we see that as something to be honored?
Mr. Amores and his views on self-sufficiency
To cap it all off, I’d like to share with you all one of the quotes that stuck with me days after the press briefing. In this quote, Mr. Amores basically says that we don’t need to aim towards being the sole provider of our country’s needs. Rather, we should see the industry as a collaborative one; with us and our neighboring nations supporting each other and sharing our resources to all of our people.
The dark patches of the agriculture field shouldn’t hinder us from seeking ways to help out. In fact, we should be the sun that will bring more light to these issues by educating ourselves further and spreading awareness. To learn more and see with your own eyes the many possibilities that this sector holds, check out events like the 14th Philippine Food Expo 2018 and read more about these issues and the various efforts fellow Filipinos have started HERE.