Asean Plus Three urged to boost food security amid rising rice prices
MANILA, Philippines– In light of the recent spike in global rice prices, calls for increased food security collaboration among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and its East Asian partners have gained momentum.
At the forefront is a proposal to amplify the Asean Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR), a significant move as countries grapple with the consequences of food shortages and escalating costs.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., during his speech at the 26th Asean-Plus Three Summit in Indonesia, urged the grouping to not only boost the APTERR but also expand the reserve to include other essential food items.
Marcos said the APT must “stay united, take adversity in stride, and work together to focus on strengthening food security, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.”
The Asean-Plus Three is composed of the 10 Asean Member States and three East Asian countries – China, Japan, and South Korea.
Premier Li Qiang of China, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, the coordinator for the Plus Three nations, all voiced their support for intensified cooperation with Asean during the summit.
This call for regional unity and action comes after a significant increase in rice prices in July, reaching their highest since September 2011. This surge was attributed to India’s decision to prohibit white rice exports, a measure to counter the rocketing domestic food prices.
Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, who heads the 311-member House of Representatives, championed the President’s proposal.
“The recent spike in rice prices worldwide underscores the urgent need for stronger regional cooperation to ensure mutual food security,” he said. He emphasized the importance of regional camaraderie, asserting that neighbors aiding in feeding each other epitomize the “highest and sincerest form of cooperation.”
Romualdez also expressed the House’s readiness to enact the required legislation to expand the rice reserve mechanism. Furthermore, he voiced his support for a proposed 6% increase in the 2024 agricultural sector budget, amounting to P197.84 billion.
“We will likewise ensure the proper utilization of the 2024 budget for the agriculture sector to boost our country’s own food security,” Romualdez added.
In a recent effort to monitor and control rice supply, Romualdez, along with other legislators, accompanied the Bureau of Customs to inspect Bulacan warehouses, looking into potential rice hoarding and smuggling activities.
To counteract the incessant rise in rice prices, Marcos issued Executive Order No. 39, implementing a cap on the retail prices of the staple food. Within his summit discourse, he further highlighted the necessity for the APT to foster sustainable agricultural and food production systems, aiming to fulfill food demand while simultaneously ensuring the environment’s health.
This article was generated with the aid of artificial intelligence and reviewed by an editor.