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Moderate to severe food insecurity in the Philippines increased by 11% between 2014 and 2019 according to the State of Food Security and Nutrition (SOFI) 2020. This is expected to worsen as the economy struggles to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond food security, however, there is also a need to examine if what is consumed by those who can feed themselves translates to improved health and well-being. The SOFI 2020 has noted only a slight decrease of 0.5% in the country’s undernourishment rate between 2004 and 2019. Ironically, the number of overweight and obese individuals has been rising since 2012. So what does the typical nutrient intake of Filipinos look like? With the popularity of fast-food chains, is fresh and nutritious food still readily available in local markets? And can consumers, especially the poor, afford to eat healthy?

The accessibility of healthy and nutritious food in local markets is crucial in addressing the prevalence of undernourishment and the rise of obesity in the Philippines. However, the government continues to focus on staple and export-oriented production, pouring resources into ‘high value’ crop development centred on improving productivity rather than food security. This is underscored by industrial agriculture practices that are detrimental to the health of both people and planet. But is shifting towards a more diversified, nutrion-oriented, and sustainable food production economically viable? How can fresh, healthy, and locally produced food be made available and affordable to Filipino consumers while securing the income of producers, especially smallholder farmers?

Join us in a back-to-back online IISLA Forum on March 23 and 24 as we examine these questions based on the insights generated from our own studies on consumption patterns among Filipinos and the sustainable agriculture landscape in the Philippines.

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