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Duterte claims he can eradicate poverty in Philippines by 2040

Duterte recently finalized the Executive Order 5 which will institutionalize his long-term development plan that was already started by the Aquino administration. The President’s plan is backed up by National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director-general Ernesto Pernia. The goal is to keep up with the Philippines’ 7.1 percent yearly growth rate for the next two decades, reducing poverty and strengthening the middle class by producing 1.3 million to 1.5 million jobs every year.

In order to pursue food security, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol explained that he aims at reaching 100% rice self-sufficiency. However, Pernia strives for a much more pragmatic (and affordable) approach through food diversification to avoid competing with top rice-producing countries like Thailand and Vietnam. The authorities in the Davao Region, for example, are confident about reaching a 90 percent of fish sufficiency by 2020, cutting poverty incidence among the fishermen by one-quarter.

Thanks to the modernization of agricultural methods and the improvement in political stability in Asia, malnutrition rates halved in the past 25 years. However, to answer to the increasing demand of food in those regions, dietary habits changed towards a more “Westernized” diet. In a recent report, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s assistant director general Kundhavi Kadiresan announced that even milk and dairy product might have the potential to quell undernourishment in the poorest countries.

Today, calories obtained through meat consumption increased by 300 percent, while people started consuming fewer vegetables, fruits and legumes. Traditional Filipino food is being supplemented with many Western-style dishes as well as processed foods heavily enriched with saturated fats and sugar, leading to a new epidemic of obesity. Although hunger may be often defeated with adequate agricultural choices, malnutrition can still be an issue if people don’t eat enough nutrients such as iron, vitamin A or zinc or stick to an unbalanced diet.

Duterte’s plan may finally provide an answer to the much-needed urge for modernization in his country. Only time will tell, however, if he will be able to drag out of poverty the one-fifth of the population that still live in poverty.

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