First, everyone ought to admit that "poverty" as measured by both the National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB) and the Social Weather Stations (SWS) has been on a long term downward trend during the last decade or so, a fact that ought to be credited to the US $12 billion annual repatriation of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) directly injected into family incomes, not trickled down, as people still fighting Ronald Reagan insist.
However there is also this data from the SWS on "self-rated hunger" which I have decomposed into what SWS calls "moderate hunger" and "severe hunger". The former refers to the percent of survey head of household respondents who claim to experience hunger "at least once" during the survey quarter -- which is what I call "episodic hunger". Each of the data points at left is actually an average for that year of four such data points. Those in "severe hunger" report not having food to eat most or all the time, what I call "chronic hunger." The hunger statistic that gets reported by SWS and the main stream media is the sum total of the episodic and chronic data points. I have split them out into the two additive components to show that they have behaved quite differently. Chronic hunger appears to change very little over the study period with only a weak downward trend. But episodic hunger is definitely on the upswing, even if self-rated poverty is trending downwards.
I wondered WHY because at first that would seem to be contradictory, paradoxical or otherwise counter-intuitive.
But we find a most plausible explanation of this phenomenon in the recent remarks of Great Britain's Chief Scientific Adviser, Prof. John Beddington, at Westminster:
Beddington said that in the short term, development and increasing wealth would add to the food crisis. "Once you move to [an income of] between £1 a day and £5 a day you get an increase in demand for meat and dairy products ... and that generates a demand for additional grain." Above £5 a day, people begin to demand processed and packaged food, which entails greater energy use. About 2.7bn people in the world live on less than £1 a day.I think this also exposes the real problem with "self-rated hunger" statistics being collected by the SWS and which usually end up as lurid headlines. The statistic on "moderate hunger" is not measuring the same thing as "chronic hunger" at all, but is actually tracking the effect of gradually improving incomes, which is that they are demanding more and better food!
There would also be increases at the higher end of the wage scale, he said. At present there are 350m households on £8,000 a year. That is projected to increase to 2.1bn by 2030. "It's tremendous good news. You are seeing a genuine prediction from the World Bank that poverty alleviation is actually working."
Then of course there is the role that BIOFUELS are playing to exacerbate the ongoing crisis in the price of food globally. I hope Migz Zubiri is paying attention to this because his plan to help out the Sugar Barons by feeding the cars instead of the people is really backfiring badly. Biofuels--which properly should be called AGROFUELS--are not the panacea they've been portrayed to be. Not only do they take away from food production, they also are not even "carbon neutral" as previously claimed. Both the US and EU have foolishly bought into some snake oil here and they better pull back from the brink before it's too late. In 2007, the 35-40% spike in global food prices has been attributed to fossil fuel at near $100 a barrel, bad weather, and the fact that 14% of the entire US corn crop (40% of global production) bwas converted to ethanol under a program passed by the US Congress and signed by President Bush in 2006. Similar programs in the EU are being criticized for the same reason. The Philippines has even less reason to get on the biofuels bandwagon, given the truly limited land area available to agricultural food production anyway.