Feeding Metro Manila in 2050
A system that nurtures the health of people and the planet, adapts to changing climate, and is sensitive to the diversity of food culture
The logo shows the central importance of consumption in shaping the food system. The intimate link among the 4 components of the system is shown by the tightly linked hexagons. The use of the hexagon itself is symbolic because it is a shape commonly seen in nature. It is the ultimate in efficiency as mathematicians discovered! The circularity of the system, the use of Fourth Industrial Revolution tech, as well its overwhelming impact outside of the system is shown by the radiating waves.
The animation shows that responsible consumption, driven by data and values, and sustained by education. will trigger the cascade of changes in the system. Signal from and to the consumer connects through digital platforms to producers, processors and farmers, enabling smooth flow of products, services, and information. All of the steps will link to waste management in a two-way flow to complete the circular system. The system will be shaped by advanced technology and enlightened policies.
In this short video, major challenges resulting from a dysfunctional system are presented. Consumer shifting diet away from the junk food culture to a science-based diet will create new opportunities in the farms and the rest of the food system. Diversity on the table and the farms will lead to revival of Filipino food culture. Ultimately these changes will create an overall quality of life improvement and renewal of Metro Manila first, then the entire country.
Map of Metro Manila showing the 16 component cities, the surrounding provinces in the north and south, and the Manila Bay, Laguna de Bay and Taal Lake where most of the food comes from.
Lead Applicant Organization Name
National Academy of Science and Technology (Philippines)
Lead Applicant Organization Type
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
1. Philippine Chamber of Food and Agriculture and Food Inc. - large NGO
2. De La Salle University, Araneta - researcher institution
3. University of the Philippines SPICE Project - research institution
4. East West Seed Company - large company
5. Coalition for Agricultural Modernization of the Philippines - large NGO
6. Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (National Farmers' Movement) - farmer organization
7. Urban Agriculture Ph - farmer organization
8. Management Association of the Philippines, ABCDE Foundation - large NGO
9. Young Professionals for Agricultural Development, Philippine Chapter - youth organization
10. PhilRice - research institution
11. National Research Council of the Philippines - research institution
12. De La Salle University Manila - research institution
13. Institute of Plant Breeding - research institution
14.Kapisanan ng Magsasaka, Mangingisda at Manggagawang Pilipinas Inc. - farmer
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Taguig, Metro Manila
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
For the Food System Vision Prize, Metro Manila is an ideal choice. It has all the elements of a complete food system. It has extensive links to food sources, locally and internationally. It has the infrastructure to trade, process, store, and sell food and farming inputs, and eventually dispose of food wastes. True it has little agricultural potential, but terrestrial farming is just one of many components of the entire food system. Two great bodies of water, Laguna Lake and Manila Bay, both of which supply the Metropolis with fish, are within its borders.
Any planned transformation of Metro Manila’s food system, will likely not start in the farms. It will start in the dinner plate, tracing back to the farms, rivers, lakes and seas where food is sourced, and beyond (farming inputs). From Metro Manila, all of these steps are easily studied because of their physical proximity, and the relative ease by which information can be gathered. The main ports through which food and agriculture inputs flow are also in Metro Manila. Traditional and new, and experimental, market channels are in Metro Manila. These include food-processing companies, wet markets, supermarkets, restaurants, and convenience stores.
But the most important factor is Metro Manila’s role as cultural center and trendsetter. Its population is highly educated, with financial capacity to experiment with food choices. If food habits change in Metro Manila, the rest of the steps in the food system, and the rest of the country, will follow. It is of special interest to me, being a student of the nexus of farming, farmer welfare, consumer nutrition and health, culture, and environmental care.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
Metro Manila is officially the National Capital Region and the seat of government in the Philippines. It is composed of 16 cities, has an area of approximately 620 square kilometers, and a current population of 12.8 million, making it the second most populous and densely populated region in the country. Metro Manila is an important center for international diplomacy as it is the home of all consulates and embassies; its economic power makes it the premier center for finance and commerce, accounting for 37.2% of the country's gross domestic product.
Like other mega-cities in developing countries, Metro Manila has been experiencing rapid urban growth, high population densities, and increasing poverty. Poverty, food, and nutrition insecurities remain as critical problems in the region. Approximately 34.2% of the total household population or 5.2 million families live below the poverty threshold at present, without enough money to purchase sufficient food and other necessities of life. These families live as informal settlers in so-called "blight infested areas," where living conditions are unacceptable. Their diets are thus deficient in major nutrients and essential micronutrients and they are constantly exposed to various pollutants and other health hazards. The increasing conversion of land for real estate development make farm-based crop production and product processing limited to the countryside.
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
Current food system challenges
Dysfunctional. This is the most appropriate way to describe the existing food system in Metro Manila.
- Consumers are suffering from a “triple burden” of malnutrition. Bits of statistics: About 1/3 of children under 5 are stunted, 30% of adults over 20 are overweight or obese, and 20% of children below five are suffering from Vitamin A deficiency or “hidden hunger”. About 2/3 of households do not meet their calorie requirement.
- Farmers (generic term that include fishers), the people who feed Metro Manila, are suffering. They are getting old (average age is 58) and the young generation does not want to be farmers. The problems are complex but related: farmers have a low social status, farming does not give a decent income. Currently farmers are the poorest of the poor in Philippine society
- Local farming is using so much land and water resources that it deprives Metro Manila of these resources for other uses. About 88% of diverted water is used for rice farming alone while Metro Manila suffers from water shortages for domestic use. Land for housing is in short supply because it is used to grow food.
- Local farming, food processing, food marketing and other components of the food system are causing so much pollution in rivers, Laguna de Bay, and Manila Bay that the waters have become unsafe for people and aquatic life. Among these are fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, growth promoters used for production of livestock, fish and crops. Of special concern is plastic, which is used extensively for packaging of food. Soil quality in farms continues to deteriorate.
- Climate change is an existential threat, to which current food production practice is not prepared to adapt. The current food system, which is strongly dependent on imports and supply from distant locations within the archipelago, contributes significantly to the greenhouse gas emissions.
- Phosphorus has no substitute for food production, yet there is still lack of society concern on the looming global phosphorus scarcity.
Future Food System Challenges
Food security can be assured in the long term if the current challenges can be addressed. The major limitations in the long term will be availability of, and access to land, water, energy, biological resources; and technology to support a sustainable food system. These resources need to be secured now through appropriate policies and other means.
It is expected that the food system will be technology intensive. Universal access to hard and soft technologies for production, marketing, consumption and waste management must be assured. R and D for a circular food economy must be sustained.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
The key to solving the existing dysfunctional food system is consumer switching food preference to a science-based diet along the model suggested by the Planetary Health Diet (PHD). Based on existing food habits in Metro Manila, adherence to PHD means increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, grain legumes, fish and starchy roots and tubers. It also means reduction in consumption of refined carbohydrates (white rice, white bread and sugar), meat and eggs. It is noteworthy that bananas and starchy roots and tuber crops are believed to be traditional staples in the Filipino diet before rice. Thus, reverting to them means reviving an old tradition rather than introducing something new.
What makes PHD different from other dietary guidelines is it simultaneously addresses environmental, nutritional and health concerns. The PHD likewise offers better options, specifically for Filipino farmers, as it is proven that diversified farming is more profitable. By virtue of its diversity and emphasis on locally adapted food ingredients, the PHD is better prepared to adapt to climate change.
Fish as a protein source is a better option than meat for Metro Manila consumers because the Philippines has 7x more water than land as an archipelagic country. Fish is more efficient in feed conversion than terrestrial animals.
Communication technology, particularly social media which is being accepted by Metro Manilans and influencing individual consumption decisions in record speed, will be crucial in making the switch in consumer preference to PHD.
By 2050, food choices will increasingly be assisted by Apps such as Genopalate, which suggests individualized food recommendations based on genetic data. Food choices will be based not only on convenience, price and taste, as currently practiced, but more on nutritional and health concerns, with consideration for farmer welfare and environmental health. Other Apps using sensor technology will track the changes in gut microbiome in response to food, to further customize food recommendations. Food will be delivered through “cloud kitchens” and Uber-type operations in addition to traditional channels.
While the bulk of food today is produced as commodities using specialized industrial system of production, and typically marketed in processed form, by 2050, we see food in Metro Manila shifting to two additional pathways in response to the shift in eating habits:
1) small-farmer/fisherfolk based diversified farms or “artisan farms”, producing locally and seasonally accepted food other than the commodities,
2) high technology, energy-intensive urban “farms” producing food without soil or animals, and using very little water
Food marketing will also be more localized, direct, and tightly linked to seasonal production and consumer food choices. This will reduce food losses and increase farmers’ share of marketing margin.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
With better health and nutrition, residents of Metro Manila are expected to enjoy a better quality of life by 2050. As the rural economy is energized by improved opportunities created in the farms and markets by dietary shift in the city, there will be less pressure to migrate to the city.
Food imports mainly commodities (rice, corn, onion, mungbean, garlic, etc.) can be reduced. A total of P742 billion used for food imports in 2018 and growing 25% a year will circulate in the local economy. There will be fewer problems with water and food scarcity, traffic, crime, and pollution.
Domestic waste (including human excrement), which is currently a major problem in Metro Manila, will have economic value for making fertilizers and generating energy among other uses. Smart sensors installed in toilets will generate information from waste that is relevant to human health and environmental care. The traditional sewage treatment plant will be transformed to a “factory” where domestic waste will be processed to produce recycled water, energy and fertilizers. Consumers will earn from the daily waste they generate!
Because farming will produce more food with less land and water, more land and aquatic resources will be “returned” to nature. Tree forests will expand, particularly in the watersheds serving Metro Manila. There will be more urban parks and marine protected areas.
Indeed, correcting a dysfunctional food system is key to solving Metro Manila’s major problems! But continuing technological and policy improvements will be needed: 1) to guide consumer behaviour, 2) assure the farmers and fisherfolk of sustained productivity and greater share of production and marketing profits, and 3) cultivate better symbiosis between farming and consumer communities.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
This 6 minute video shows the challenges related to the food system in Metro Manila and how these challenges are linked to eating habits and related farming systems. By shifting food preference from the present narrow rice-based to a more diversified meal, the challenges can be effectively addressed. The expected outcomes are improved consumer and environmental health, farmers' income, climate change adaptation, and sensitivity to food culture.
who will supply Metro Manila's food in 2050?
The key driver of the current problems in the food system is Metro Manila’s preference for white rice as the major staple. Rice continues to displace other staples, such as corn, cassava, banana and sweet potato in the Filipino plate. This is not a healthy trend because excessive white rice consumption has been linked to chronic diseases.
The rice crop is known to be less efficient in using land and water resources than dryland alternative staples such as sweet potato and corn. Combined with small farms (average is 1 hectare) these factors limit the rice farmers’ economic options. Poverty in the farms drives people to migrate to Metro Manila to seek better opportunities, over stretching the capacity of the metropolis to provide essential services such as housing, transport, sanitation, health, education and security.
For food security, policy makers today increasingly rely on rice imports. Indeed, the Philippines has become the world’s leading importer of rice in 2019 with a growth rate of 154%! Yet import dependence is risky because only 5% of the global rice production is internationally traded. Farmers in rice exporting countries suffer the same problems as local farmers. It is only a matter of time before they reduce rice production.
Finally, rice is ill prepared for climate change. Transporting imported rice over long distances contribute to global warming.
Weaning the Metro Manila consumer away from rice is an essential step for the 2050 Food Systems Vision. This is where soft technologies are needed on a sustained basis to shift consumer preference in the direction of a science-based diet such as the Planetary Health Diet. Consumers who cannot be weaned from rice completely must be persuaded to switch to healthier rice grown using more environment-friendly technologies.
Our optimistic vision for the 2050 food system of Metro Manila has 4 main components in the order of importance: 1) consumption, 2) marketing, 3) production, and 4) waste management.
In our vision, the typical 2050 dinner plate has a diversity of food, mostly plant based, less rice and highly processed grains, and assembled by a robust App that considers an individual’s nutritional and health needs and capabilities, impact of the meal composition on the environment, local food culture, and farmers’ welfare.
For the more tech savvy, the plate of food is delivered to the consumer using the same App, which directs her food order to one of several “cloud kitchens”. One of these takes the order and delivers directly to the consumer. The kitchen is linked by the App to farmers who can supply raw materials as needed.
The urban consumer may produce some of the items on the plate, from her own kitchen “garden” that grows greens without soil and meat without animals. Consumers will have more time for home-based food production as working days are reduced, working at home becomes mainstream, and small households become the norm.
Farmers supplying raw materials to the “cloud kitchens” may be one of the following categories:
- “Artisan farmers and fisherfolk” using soil, water and other traditional inputs in highly diversified small farms, many of which are located in urban and peri-urban areas. Food items will be highly diverse in composition, price and quality, as they vary with production method, season and location. Among those that will be produced in great quantity in proportion to other foodstuff used today are: grain legumes, fruits, nuts, vegetables, fish, and root and tuber crops. Fish and other aquaculture products will be produced by sustainable aquaculture (dominantly mariculture and sea ranching) farms. “Hybrid” production systems such as aquaponics and floating gardens utilizing Laguna de Bay will supplement traditional systems. As the concept of food being a “medicine” becomes accepted, there will be more demand for herbs, spices, and mushrooms with established health benefits.
- A new generation of technology and capital intensive “urban farmers” who grow plants without soil; or meat, milk and eggs without animals. Unconventional items such as insects and microalgae will be produced too. Urban farms will supply low-cost mass-produced food to the masses in small climate controlled spaces, managed with the help of artificial intelligence. Some of these facilities will be integrated in housing developments, including apartment buildings. Home-based food production without soil and animals will be mainstream by 2050.
- “Industrial farmers”, remnants of the discredited industrial system of mass production, producing the standard fast food stuff. They will produce such commodities as white rice, white flour, sugar, vegetable oils, feedlot or cage-produced livestock, poultry and fish. Products of “industrial farmers” will likely be more expensive as the farmers will be taxed to cover externals costs such as the extravagant use of land and water, environmental damage, negative consumer health outcomes, and violation of animal rights.
An important trend today leading to “artisan farmers” is the establishment of “agri-tourism” farms initially by hobbyists. These attract young entrepreneurs who do not identify themselves with traditional farmers, but consider themselves as a new breed, committed to the values of providing health and nutrition to consumers and care for the environment, with profit as more of an afterthought.
On the other hand, an important recent trend leading to the new generation of “urban farmers” is the increasing use of climate-controlled facilities made possible by reduction in energy cost. In the USA, there is an active research on “clean meat”, producing meat without killing animals.
At least some of the species of plants, animal and fish that are needed in bulk for the planetary health diet, will be produced in industrial scale using consumer- and environment- friendly technologies. Rotation with the established commodities such as rice and corn for short-season annuals and intercropping with coconut for perennials are the likely entry points.
The present trend towards decentralization of such crucial production factors as energy and water, are portents of the expected importance of artisan and urban farmers relative to industrial farmers. Even machinery will become more customized to meet individual farmers’ needs as additive manufacturing becomes mainstream.
On the other hand, decentralized and localized production will make it easier and cheaper to market whole foods, among them the more perishable alternative staples, fruits, vegetables, and fish products. In any case, cold storage will become cheaper with cheap energy from solar and other renewable sources.
Capital will not be constraint for artisan and urban farmers, as entrepreneurs who have the financial capacity will provide this. Among these entrepreneurs are young retirees, as the new retirement law allows workers to retire at 56 years of age. Overseas Filipinos who are returning are constantly in search of investment opportunities. In addition, crowd sourced capital such as that offered by Cropital today will become mainstream.
Industrial farmers will form production, food processing and marketing cooperatives and operate consolidated farms to achieve economies of scale.
All of the food production methods described above will be technology intensive. Thus, the prerequisite for the Vision is society’s commitment to support Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. These will make it possible for farmers to achieve a decent livelihood in farming and get a fair share of marketing margin. Democratic access to technology must be assured by appropriate government policies.
The Vision also requires commitment to such values as quality of life and environmental health. This cultural shift is the most challenging of all necessary changes to achieve our Vision. The behavioural sciences including communication will leverage these values to influence food preferences of consumers, farming practice, and government policies. Globalization is expected to have an impact as the international movement against mainstream Western junk food takes root in Metro Manila.
Linking farmers directly to consumers, the basic idea behind the food delivery Apps described earlier, takes shape currently in the form of “community supported agriculture” movements and online sale of fresh produce. Farmers will need access to good storage and distribution infrastructures such as farmers’ market. Metro Manila may need to revive the giant Food Terminal built in the 1970s to provide storage and distribution facilities for farmers, and build more of the same in strategic locations throughout the metropolis.
Biodegradable food packaging technologies will be needed too. This will create new industries utilizing raw materials such as bamboo, palms, abaca and other local fibers. Such industries are significant additions to economic activity and employment in the rural sector.
The government’s role in achieving the 2050 Vision may consist of support for R and D, which may be direct, or indirect by providing incentives to the private sector that invests in R and D. The new Department of Human Settlement and Urban Development may require urban food production facilities in housing developments. Appropriate policies covering production, marketing and consumption will facilitate transition into the new food system.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?
Describe how your Vision developed over the course of the Refinement Phase.
We recognized two outstanding weaknesses in the document submitted during Open Submission: 1) waste management was not adequately presented; 2) the significance of food culture was glossed over.
During the Refinement Phase the COVID-10 pandemic created a perfect timing to initiate the first step we wrote into our Vision to correct our dysfunctional food system – this is to call for a shift in food habits. We recruited three highly credible organizations not previously included in our team to partner with us in delivering two related messages: 1) The Looming Food Crisis, and 2) Our Body: Our Last Line of Defense Against COVID-19. These advocated for localized food security and protection against virus infection by eating well.The campaign was done on social media and feedbacks guided us in reading society's changing attitude towards food.
Please provide the names of all organizations you meaningfully partnered with to develop this latest version of your Vision (they contributed at least 10 hours of time to the Vision development during the Refinement Phase).
1. Philippine Chamber of Food and Agriculture and Food Inc. - large NGO
2. De La Salle University, Araneta - researcher institution
3. University of the Philippines SPICE Project - research institution
4. East West Seed Company - large company
5. Coalition for Agricultural Modernization of the Philippines - large NGO
6. Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka - farmer organization
7. Urban Agriculture Ph - farmer organization
8. Management Association of the Philippines, ABCDE Foundation - large NGO
9. Young Professionals for Agricultural Development, Philippine Chapter - youth organization
10. PhilRice - research institution
11. National Research Council of the Philippines - research institution
12. De La Salle University Manila - research institution
13. Institute of Plant Breeding - research institution
14.Kapisanan ng Magsasaka, Mangingisda at Manggagawang Pilipinas Inc. - farmer organization
Describe the specific steps you took during the Refinement phase to include different stakeholders to develop your Vision, including a description (age, profile, and total number) of the stakeholders engaged, and how you engaged with each.
Engagement with stakeholders inclusive of two round table discussions and one training in making a foresight document were done before the Refinement so we immediately sat down to write as soon as we got word that we were shortlisted.
Drafting was distributed to 25 team members representing 15 stakeholder institutions. The 25 individuals had an age range of mid 20s to early 70s, the average age around 45. Fifteen of them are leaders of the stakeholder organization they represent, mostly with advanced degrees, except for the representatives from the farmers’ groups.
All of the stakeholders represented are currently engaged in food system related projects such as advocacy, advising the government, production, teaching, and research. Representatives were selected on the basis of their expertise and potential to help in activities leading to the realization of the Vision.
During Refinement 6 new team members were recruited to help review the drafts, do the visualization part, editorial work, and preparation of a video briefer.
We linked up with 4 other Prize semi-finalists and offered to help each other. We posted in social media, drawing more than 500 views and comments within one day.
All communications were done by electronic means. When opinions differ, the team leader finds a mutually acceptable position. If positions are irreconcilable, which is rare, the team leader decides. Thus the final document is a balanced representation of different point of views.
What signals and trends did you draw from to inform your Vision? Please provide data or examples that back up each signal or trend.
Food habits will change soon
Consumption of highly refined carbohydrates, the main cause of Metro Manila’s dysfunctional food system, had been on an increasing trend over many years. What gave us hope that change is coming soon are :
- For the first time, we have a science-based guide for diets that satisfy nutritional, health and environmental impact criteria, the Planetary Health Diet (PHD). This will inspire a values-driven, more enduring, shift in food habit
- Fear is a very effective motivator. The continuing failure of standard measures such as quarantine, vaccination, and medication to reduce suffering from COVID-19 has generated interest in the health benefits of eating well.
- Trust in the industrial food production system and globalized supply chain for a few commodities that supply most of the food calories in Metro Manila was recently eroded by reports of droughts in rice exporting countries and the disruption of supply chain caused by COVID-19. Society is now inclined to increase support for a more decentralized, diverse local food system for food security. Indeed, relief food in the course of the COVID-19 crisis quickly shifted from the standard instant noodles and canned meat and fish to fresh foodstuff from local producers.
Farmers’ share in marketing margin is improving
Disruption in transport and limited access to the supermarkets during the COVID-19 crisis stimulated the creation of new digital and logistical platforms that favored local farmers. Among these is the revival of KADIWA, a system of linking farmers directly to consumers in poor neighborhoods. New trade relationships are being established, which are likely to endure beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
A new generation of farmers is coming!
The new back to the rural areas movement (Balik sa Probinsiya) inspired by the need to decongest Metro Manila to control COVID-19 and future epidemics, has been launched by highly influential politicians. A package of incentives is being prepared. This will recruit younger and better educated, values-driven farmers, replacing the current crop who is 58 years old with only a high school education on the average. The new generation is more bankable and willing to take risks. Interest in high tech urban farming among capitalists will likely increase as the effects of the greater calamity now developing, climate change, make open-field farming more risky and the global value chain less dependable.
Society is more sympathetic to technological solutions
Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe) technologies are increasingly being deployed in the entire food value chain, making personalized food recommendations, increasing farmer income, and reducing environmental impact as discussed elsewhere in this document. The new found society trust in science and technology will facilitate their development and application in the Philippine setting.
Describe a “Day in the Life” of a key food system actor within your food system in 2050 (e.g., farmer, chef, supply chain actor, food policy actor, etc.).
Story of Glenn Gregorio 55yo and his son Juancho Gregorio 10yo in 2020
Weekend in the year 2050. Juancho drives to Bay, Laguna with his family to visit. His daughter Mariah brings 2 bottles of home-squeezed juice for Grandpa and Grandma. When asked about the recipe, she borrows Juancho’s phone and shows Grandpa the app used. JuizApp generates a recommended juice blend based on seasonality of produce, and age/health condition of the consumer. Mariah reminds that the red bottle is for Grandpa, and the green is for Grandma Myla, not to be switched.
Juancho’s sonToby asks Grandpa if he will send them home with rice again, because it’s his birthday soon and his parents always let him have red rice on his birthday. Glenn asks, “What’s your gift for me first?” and is handed three big bell peppers (one red, one yellow, and one green) from Toby’s own plot in their family urban backyard garden. Toby goes on to boast that his plot made enough so that they could send a basketful to their village’s community kitchen that week.
Juancho helps his mom carry the crateful of kitchen waste into the pickup car. There’s a lot of vegetable and fruit peelings today because she cooked plenty for Juancho’s family’s visit. Glenn brings Juancho along with him to the rice mill. Along the way, they drop off the kitchen waste at the local compost production area managed by the village that hires transient unemployed residents. The person in charge weighs the kitchen waste, and asks if Glenn wants cash or compost. Glenn requests that today’s transaction be added again to his account, and he will pick up compost next week to plant Myla’s new set of high-value and nutritious vegetables. At the mill, Glenn and Juancho pick up the milled unpolished rice, half is brown rice and half is purple rice; both harvested from Glenn’s farm. Juancho will be bringing it back to Manila to sell. There’s one more extra sack to load, red rice, with a special label, “For Toby”.
Environment | How will your food system of 2050 adapt to climate change and remain resilient?
The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. By 2050, it is expected that temperatures would have risen above 2oC. Extremes of rainfall are expected.
Even without climate change, the country is literally in the eye of the storm as about 20 tropical cyclones pass through its territory every year. As a result, there are massive damages to the food system annually due to flooding and strong winds. Adaptation to current and future climate is therefore essential for increasing resilience of food systems. Such resilient systems should also contribute to the mitigation of GHG in the atmosphere.
Our general strategy is to build the climate resilience of the food system using a combination of avoidance and holistic, innovative and participatory approaches covering the entire food system.
1. Improving climate change adaptation and resilience of traditional production systems
a. Stress tolerant crops and varieties (e.g., submergence, salinity, drought, and heat tolerance). Sweet potato, for example, is better adapted to heat and drought than rice, aside from being a more healthy choice for consumers. New varieties of rice combine tolerance to multiple stresses.
b. Use of accurate weather forecasts, granular soil data and hazard maps that facilitate decisions such what crops and variety to use, when and where.
c. Efficient water management technologies. These include water harvesting technologies such as small water impounding structures, alternate wetting and drying practice (for rice), and drip irrigation for dryland crops.
d. Integrated crop management (e.g., integrated pest management (IPM), site- specific nutrient management) and organic farming practices. IPM reduces external inputs and make it easier to integrate crops with animal and fish farming. Adequate source, timing, amount and placement of fertilizers can reduce negative effects of excessive fertilization such as pollution and global warming. Organic farming builds and sustains soil health.
e. Agroforestry and permaculture systems in communities of small farms (e.g., fruit and energy crops and timber trees near or around rice fields). These diversified systems bring important benefits for increased incomes and yields, reduced cost, resilience to climate shocks and variability, and reduced emissions. For example, bamboos in riparian zones provide additional sources of food and income, improve soil condition, and provide a windbreak.
f. Diversification, integration and intensification. A diverse product line provides income security amidst climate change for farmers, among many benefits. For rice farming, integration of mushroom production, milk from water buffalo, and vermiculture is a proven good option. For fish farming, a diversified and integrated system , the Integrated Mutitrophic Aquaculture (IMTA) has been demonstrated. Hybrid production systems such as aquaponics, floating farms (e.g. rice farms floating on sea water utilizing salt tolerant varieties), and aquasilviculture are options that have not been tried in scale at all. Done in scale, hybrid systems can also help alleviate water pollution caused by runoffs from farms.
2. Novel production systems for food security amidst adverse climate change and other calamities
Bringing production closer to the dining table through the use of high technology controlled environment facilities within the Metropolis itself will be an assurance that Metro Manila will be food secure.
3. Spreading production of grains and bulk commodities geographically and temporally to spread risks
The vast latitude, altitude and archipelagic spread of the Philippines create differences in climate that can be exploited to insure year round availability of staples and other food items that are needed in quantities in Metro Manila.
4. Harnessing food technology to produce products with long storage life and enhanced functionality and acceptability from rice and alternative staples. Among these are camote and cassava flours, which are based on crops that are more adapted to climate change than rice.
5. Expanding cold chain facilities to cope with long distance transport of perishables particularly during calamities and reduce losses in the marketplace.
6. Building social capital
Climate resilience requires collective action particularly in farming practice that requires use of shared resources such as land, water and labor. We will take measures to revive the traditional Bayanihan (mutual help) spirit to make small farms and municipal fishery economically viable. Among possible actions are farm consolidation and strengthening of cooperatives. For fishery, the enforcement of sustainable practices require community cooperation. The impetus created by COVID-19 to de-urbanize, cooperate and work from home are favorable signals, because the Bayanihan spirit works best in small communities where people know each other and have time to socialize.
Diets | How will your food system of 2050 address malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, metabolic disease) for the people living there?
By 2050, no one must go to bed hungry in Metro Manila. No one has to die of food-related chronic diseases as well.
Metro Manila has more than its fair share of natural disasters. The food system of 2050 must be ready at all times to provide the food needs of communities suffering from consequences of floods, strong winds, drought, epidemics, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. For instant relief, a new generation of processed food prepared along the Planetary Health Diet (PHD) model will be used. Instead of the standard noodles and canned goods popularly used until the first 2 decades of 2000, the food packs will have more diverse ingredients, most of them locally sourced. Mobile kitchens preparing PHD meals will be used if the emergency situation lingers. Mobile water purification facilities would have replaced the plastic bottles years before. Mobile toilets will be on hand to recycle human and other wastes. These mobile facilities will be utilized to augment the facilities for the homeless during normal times.
By 2050, the school feeding program at the primary level would have become institutionalized as a way of addressing child nutrition, and a tool for educating children on the role of food choice in nutrition, health, environment, and farmer welfare. At least some ingredients will be sourced from the school food production cum education facility such as vertical gardens and controlled environment farms. Similar programs will be implemented in correctional institutions and military camps.
Food insecurity will be a thing of the past for the general population too, as urban farms are established in controlled environment facilities inside high rise buildings, and in legally required artisan farms in all housing developments. They will be producing conventional foods such as green vegetables and salad crops, and high tech unconventional foods such as single cell proteins, clean meat, and insects among others. Peri-urban artisan farms will supply special needs such as organic, halal, kosher, pesticide free, animal-welfare compliant, farmer-friendly food. Commodities such as rice, beans, sweet potatoes, pork, chicken, eggs, fish will come from industrial farms that have modified their operations to avoid penalties from negative health and environmental impacts, and increase income of growers. Controlled environment storage and transport facilities, including refrigerated vans (a must in tropical climate) will provide assurance of continuity of supply and reduction of waste as energy costs reach bottom levels.
Junk food restaurants will have become prohibitively expensive as the government learned to tax them for their negative impacts. By this time, only the uneducated rich could afford them, as a perverse sort of status symbol. Asian, local, and a new generation of PHD-compliant and food culture-sensitive restaurants (such as halal) take over. They provide dine-in, take-out and delivery services, joining a host of cloud kitchens.
For the growing number of workers and students doing work at home, a more personalized meal can be prepared or ordered online using the PHD Plus App, which is the improved version of the present day Genopalate App. PHD Plus App takes into account not only the biological needs of the consumer, but also his financial capability, religion, dietary restrictions, farmer welfare, seasonal/local availability, and environmental concerns.
Metro Manila’s population would have stabilized to below 2020 level by then, as the lesson of overcrowding was so painfully delivered by Covid-19, technology made it easier to work at home, and farming (inclusive of fishing) has become a profession citizens are proud of. Rural life no longer has to be inconvenienced by lack of essential needs and services such as energy, potable water, health care, communication, as technology decentralized them to the level of households.
Rural life will be bustling with economic activity related to food. Among the new ones are production and processing of biodegradable materials such as bamboo, abaca, and palms for the food packaging and the food service industry (a new and huge industry replacing plastics). The growing market for health promoting tropical food such as tropical mushrooms, seaweeds, Moringa, colored rice and pili nuts, would have added to the economic prospects in the countryside. All of these will make it attractive not only for rural people to stay but people from the city to move to rural communities. Higher income in the rural sector triggered by the shift in food preference in Metro Manila, and sustained by formal and informal education on the food system, will make malnutrition and chronic diseases no more than a historical footnote in this sector.
Economics | Where and what will the jobs be that support living wages in your future food system of 2050, and how will these jobs impact gender equality?
The holistic nature and use of Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe) technologies in the envisioned food system will create new jobs extending beyond production to include a wide range of activities, including food processing, transportation, retail, and most significantly in R and D. The changing dietary patterns in the city created by a successful campaign for acceptance of the Planetary Health Diet (PHD) and food insecurities of climate change will drive the shift in agriculture from monoculture industrial production to a more diversified and artisanal production in peri-urban and rural areas, and to the new high tech urban food production systems.
Industrial agriculture producing commodities for Metro Manila will not likely expand from their present locations. It will require new jobs mandated by concern for the environment, as well as the increasing use of digital technology. Among these are waste management technicians, carbon footprint auditors, and digital technology related jobs such as drone pilots, web presence management and online marketing. Males will dominate in jobs that require heavy machinery operation and muscle power. Females will be needed for light machinery, logistics, supply procurement, marketing, human resources management, quality control, and audits. High tech jobs will be shared more or less equally.
The artisanal production requiring a combination of skilled manual labor, sensitivity to modern human values (such as concern for healthy lifestyle and environment), patience, soft power, creativity and flexibility will engage females more. Modern artisan farms are starting out as farm tourism and training sites. Likely, some of them will retain this role in the 2050s, but only as an additional service and income source. The main source of revenue will be food production and processing. There will be new positions over and above the traditional farming jobs. Among these are farm integration designer, certification compliance officer (for organic, halal, kosher farms), waste management technicians and tour guides. The main source of growth for artisanal production will be in aqua and hybrid (aqua and terrestrial) farms in Laguna and Taal Lakes and in Manila Bay.
In high tech urban farms, new positions need to be created for such fields as urban planning, production facility designing, building, and operations. New skills will be needed for such operations as clean meat production, and controlled environment operation involving temperature, humidity and light control; growing media optimization, energy use optimization, logistics, quality control, and waste management. It requires integration of Fourth Industrial Revolution Technologies in the physical, biological and digital realms. These jobs are gender insensitive, offering equal opportunities.
There will be positions for food technologists involved in preservation and processing of PHD-compliant products, mostly involving women, as demand increases for health promoting minimally processed, fermented and sprouted foods.
Marketing will be technology driven and data intensive. Restaurant dining will decline as working at home becomes common, personalized food increases in demand, and the proportion of seniors in the population increases. Cloud kitchens and deliveries will cater to the need for ready-to-eat food at home and in the workplaces. New positions will be needed. Among these are online marketing officer, apps designer/programmer, nutritionists, nutrigenomics lab technicians, and waste management officers. Males will likely dominate digital work and deliveries but lab and food preparation work will be female territory.
Since the 2050 food system will be knowledge intensive, new jobs will be created in R and D in the realms of FIRe technologies, but especially in the fields of ecology, biotechnology, nutrition and health, and digital technology. Combinations of stress tolerances will have to be engineered into plants, animals, and microbes in anticipation of changing climate. Stable interactions in complex multitrophic production systems need to be understood and utilized for farming purposes. Mass production of clean meat, egg and milk for food, and single cell proteins and insects for food and feed require the kind of basic and applied research that is just starting. Food and feed processing technologies to make these new products safe, nutritious and acceptable to consumers will be needed. Robust digital platforms linking consumers, retailers and producers will have to be developed. Training of a new generation of farmers, food technologists, retailers and other players in the food value chain will be needed. Research jobs in the Philippines are increasingly being female territory, as males tend to shun higher education. This trend is not expected to change.
Culture | How will your 2050 food system ensure that the cultural, spiritual and community traditions and/or practices in your Place flourish?
The Philippine tropical climate and geography favor biodiversity, as the country extends over a range of latitudes, altitudes and thousands of islands. This natural diversity nurtured equally diverse food-related habits, rituals and traditions that became embedded in our culture.
In modern times, food habit-related cultural diversity is being lost in all fronts. Monoculture farming cleared forests to plant a few species and a few varieties of chosen species for food but mostly for commerce. Today, as much as 90% of our farm lands are planted to rice, corn, and coconut. More than 90% of our rice farms now grow modern varieties with uniform quality. The few “heirloom” rice varieties that are left are relegated to niche markets, reserved for the rich. Cultured fish is dominated by only two species: tilapia and bangus. Consumption of the algae Nostoc in the Ilocos is all but lost.
In Metro Manila where food must survive handling and transport from distant farms and over considerable time from harvest to the dining table, many species are found unsuitable as regular food. These include traditional staples such as root and tubers that deteriorate quickly after harvest, causing tremendous losses between the farm and the dining table.
In the kitchen where convenience is needed by cooks who also need to rush to work or otherwise multi-task, it is a lot easier to plug a rice cooker and take a nap, rather than boil camote and risk burning it over nap time. In the workplace where workers are given limited time to eat, it is more convenient to eat budget meals put together using commodity ingredients, mainly wheat, sugar, rice, and chicken. They satisfy the modern criteria for choosing food: convenience, price and taste. Finally, in schools, diversity is lost when teachers who were not trained any better scold the young who don't perform well, by telling them to go home and plant camote instead. The student grows up hating camote and farming.
We have argued throughout this document that the loss in food diversity is the root cause of our dysfunctional food system. This diversity can only be regained sustainably if the environment and culture that nurtured it can be restored or at least repaired. There are no short cuts to this end; it is a chicken-or-egg problem, but technology provides a good handle. The process must start in everyday decisions that all of us make. What should we eat?
Our food preference defines who we are. In a typical Metro Manila restaurant, it is no longer possible to distinguish who is a Bicolano and who is an Ilokano. All of the diners eat Chicken Joy Meal. But at home, the Bicolano longs for ginataan and the Ilocano craves for saluyot. When they return from visits to their respective provinces, they bring their favorite food to the city. Alas, they get to enjoy their traditional food only on these rare occassions.
But what if a cold chain can supply their traditional food on a more regular basis? What if food technologists can find a way of dehydrating saluyot so it can be restored to its original flavor and texture when cooked? What if plant breeders can develop a red rice variety that is as nutritious and taste as good as their traditional counterpart but giving 10 tons of rice in 120 days instead of 1.5 tons in 150 days? What if all the consumer has to do is fiddle with her smart phone and she can get her traditional food along with other foodstuff that will satisfy her biological needs and values, still warm, in less than one hour, at a price that is competitive with Chicken Joy Meal?
Technology expands our food choices. By diversifying our food, we open the space on our plates for food that have been displaced by the trendy emphasis on a few easily traded commodities. It will encourage farmers to diversify as well to sustain the flow of food components.
By diversifying farming, we open the space on our soils and waters for plants and animals that have been neglected or altogether lost because of emphasis on industrial farming that favored monoculture of a few species.
By diversifying farming, we create an economic justification for research institutions to invest resources on neglected species. We need to know how to grow, process, and market them in a form that will create lasting consumer satisfaction and loyalty.
When the disappearing and lost species find their way back into the dining table, farms and research institutions, we will have a good chance of regenerating whatever is left of the culture that has been lost by their disappearance. First is the culture of love for nature, biodiversity and self-reliance; and our confidence in our abilities to grow food and nourish ourselves with limited resources, as immortalized by the Tagalog folk song “Bahay Kubo”. I have no doubt that revival of the rest of the good that defines the Filipino will follow.
Technology | What technological advances are needed to transform your food system into one that meets your goals and embodies the values of your Vision in 2050?
Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe) technology which is referred to as an array of biological, physical, and digital technologies, and combinations of them are the game changers for our food system vision for Metro Manila because they provide enabling attributes: a) for optimal efficiencies, and thus minimize losses and wastage; b) for innovative business models as they allow new players to disrupt the existing markets while challenging the incumbent players to revisit their current approach and pivot into new business models and new market; c) for greater transparency of information, by allowing both producers and consumers to gather and analyze the data quickly to obtain valuable insights through new levels of data transparency, connectivity and flexibility, and d) for regenerative and restorative systems, by allowing us to move away from the use of traditionally-limited or resource-intensive materials.
The following are examples of innovation across the value chain that will be needed to transform our food system using FIRe technologies. A more comprehensive list and descriptions are presented in the attached document.
1. Smart urban farming. Among the more advanced urban farming practices are climate controled soil-free biological systems that involve multitrophic integration. Aquaponics is a kind of “controlled” bio-system that provides efficiency and circularity since the product of one biological system serves as nutrients for the other while generating two food products, vegetable and fish from one ecosystem. Smart sensors can be used to monitor the use and recycling of water, as well as the use of LED grow lights that produce the necessary light spectrum to stimulate plant growth within indoor facilities. Image processing technologies help these sites monitor plant growth and forecast potential yield per cropping which helps address supply-demand gaps appropriately.
2. Food manufacturing 4.0: designed and engineered for the planetary health diet (PHD). Advances in biological technologies such as precise DNA-editing technology (CRISPR-Cas9), synthetic biology and cellular agriculture will be needed to engineer food with more nutraceutical value and lower environmental footprint. Food manufacturers can create new products and flavors from the food ingredients designed for PHD.
3. Platform for a sustainable food supply chain. Advances in the application of blockchain technology will be needed to improve safety, traceability and transparency in the food supply chain. In combination with other digital technologies such as AI and cloud computing, this kind of food informatics will be needed to make an informed purchasing decision or enhance the food shopping experience. Such digital platform integrates information from PHD requirements, genomic data, environmental impact, price, local and seasonal availability, farmer welfare, among others. New sensor technology that tracks the changes in gut microbiome in response to food, can also be used to further customize food recommendations.
4. Reverse logistics. Typically, logistics in the food industry are more concerned with the forward supply chain, i.e., getting products from farms or factories to retailers where they can be sold. However, these supply chain operations are only half of the logistics system. Effective reuse of packaging materials and resale or proper disposal of unsold products requires the establishment of tech-driven reverse logistics. Digital platforms can thus be used to enable Metro Manila to redistribute surplus edible food while turning inedible by-products into new products to increase revenue streams.
5. Sustainable nutrient, energy and water management. Even if all surplus edible food was redistributed, a large volume of inedible food by-products, human excreta, and green waste would continue to be produced. As these organic materials contain valuable nutrients that can be used for a range of purposes, technological advances will be needed for nutrient management.
Technologies are needed to transform traditional sewage treatment plant to a “resource recovery factory” where water, energy and nutrients are recovered from urban wastewater, and at the same time produce new materials, e.g., bioplastics. Sanitation systems will include toilets that are "smart" using sensors and cloud intelligence to capture molecular characterizations of waste and transmit consumer use or health data through connected networks and devices. Circular business models will emerge through big data analytics wherein consumers can also earn rebates from the daily waste they generate including those health data they provided with consent.
Policy | What types of policies are needed to enable your future food system?
Many enabling laws such as those covering agriculture and fishery modernization, rice tarrification, farm tourism, and seed industry development are already in place. The most recent is the Balik Probinsya (back to rural communities), which seeks to decongest Metro Manila by making it attractive for its population to relocate to the countryside. Additional policy initiatives are needed in the following areas:
1. Education. A comprehensive food system education is needed at all levels. This program will highlight the consequences of personal food choices on important society issues. Urban agriculture focused on the new controlled environment food production technologies must be developed as a distinct branch of agriculture or a new branch of technology altogether. Education of health care workers must cover nutrition, health, and preventive medicine.
2. Feeding programs based on the Planetary Health Diet (PHD) must be sustained in all primary schools and in all government programs where some government subsidy for food is provided.
3. Preventive medicine. The PHD must be recognized as an essential preventive health care component of the Universal Health Care (UHC) program. The government must actively and sustainably campaign for the general acceptance of PHD using funds from the UHC.
4. Research and development (R and D)
a. Provide increased funding for government R and D and incentives for companies to apply Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe) technologies in the food system. Suggested priority areas:
* food technology to convert commodities and new food materials such as insects and microorganisms into high value products
* controlled environment food production
* waste management
* conservation and culture of neglected crops, aquatic species and potential future sources of food such as microorganisms and insects
* multi-species integrated farming on land and water
* digital platforms for enhanced integration of components of the food system
b. Rationalize restrictions on bioprospecting and biotechnology.
5. Global competitiveness and farmer income. The recently implemented Rice Tarrification Law provides substantial funds for mechanization to insure competitiveness of the rice sector. Other critical policy areas for rice and the rest of the farming sector are:
a. land and water use laws
b. farm consolidation
c. private sector participation in priority areas such as integrated multitrophic aquaculture (IMTA) and rural agri-based industrialization
d. direct selling by farmers by promoting such activities as online marketing, farmers’markets, community supported agriculture, and food terminals
e. direct and indirect compensation for farm workers
6. Calamity preparedness and resilience
a. Geographic dispersal of production areas of all foodstuff that are needed/will be needed in quantity, such as rice, fish, corn, grain legumes, vegetables, root and tuber crops.
b. Expansion of food storage and handling capacity
7. Environment. Among the needed policies:
a. Sustained community involvement in the clean-up of Manila Bay, Laguna Lake, and rivers of Metro Manila
b. Reward environment friendly farm and aquaculture practices and tax those unable to improve farming practice; link subsidy programs to environmental care targets
c. Reward recycling and other activities that promote circularity in the food system; e.g. rainwater collection
d. Ban or reduce the use of plastics and encourage the use of local biodegradable materials for food packaging
8. Finance. Part of government funds for the rice and coconut sectors (e.g. tariff and levy funds) must be allocated for farm diversification to improve farmers’ income to a level above subsistence. Other policies needed
a. Banks are required by law to allocate 25% of their loanable funds for farming. Government should help the banks to comply.
b. Full utilization of digital technology in banking particularly in rural areas to provide easy access of capital by farmers
9. Infrastructure. This refers specifically to digital and physical infrastructures. Lowering the cost and increasing efficiency of interisland logistics to broaden food supply base of Metro Manila is a priority concern.
10. Food security.
a. Tightly regulate farm land fragmentation and conversion
b. Promote new community and housing designs to provide for rainwater collection and facilities for controlled environment production systems within residential buildings.
c. Secure fishery resources, particularly in the West Philippine Sea
d. Protect watershed areas
e. Make food security a local government priority
11. Energy. Low-cost, decentralized renewable energy will be needed for irrigation, primary processing, cold storage, and controlled environment food production among others. Aggressive policies such as tax exemption or subsidy are needed to make this happen soon.
12. Create a Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Describe how these 6 Themes connect with and influence one another in your food system.
Our Vision is anchored on interconnectedness of what we may refer to as hardware (the physical components of the system such as farms, environment, cold stores, groceries, and diet), and software (technology, policy, culture, and economics). Throughout the document we labored to show the connections. Below is a summary.
The typical food plate in Metro Manila today is dominated by rice, a proportionately much smaller piece of chicken or fish, little piece of vegetables here and there, and the ubiquitous sugary drink. We established the connections of this prevailing food habit to what we described as a dysfunctional food system.
Our main strategy for solving this problem calls for diversification of the diet. The farms will diversify in response to the market signal, in the process improving farmers’ income and reducing pressures on the environment. The latter results from shifting mainly from rice to foodstuff that require less water, land, and pollution; and more nutrition. Environment in our vision also benefits from a fourth component of the system -- waste management. This component does not prominently figure in the existing food system.
A feature that is disappearing in the current food system is traditional food culture. This is highly localized, as it is shaped over long periods of time by the archipelago’s diverse environment. It is being lost because of the food system’s bias for a few mass-produced components. By diversifying diet, space on the consumer table will open up for local foods. Local foods are a good anchor for nutrition and health, as they developed over generations of trial and error creating an epigenetic imprint that blends them with our physiology. Food security is also assured with local foods; they have survived millenia of climate change.
Policies are needed on such issues as insuring that land, cheap energy and water, and infrastructure for farm inputs and food transport, communication and food storage are available. Policies are critical for waste management to reduce pollution and recover material and energy from waste. Innovative policies should tap the private sector for these ends.
Throughout the document, we also emphasized the critical role of Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe) Technologies. We mentioned the use of digital technology in the development of the PHD Plus App, a data- and-values-driven App designed to help the consumer choose what to eat. As it is intimately linked with farms and markets, the App guides them about the kind of food, quality and quantity needed by consumers.
Biotechnology is essential to push the limit of farm productivity and provide the means to rapidly respond to changing farm and economic conditions. We need biotechnology to prepare for and adapt to the looming mega crisis: climate change.
Describe any trade-offs you may have to make within your system to attain your Vision by 2050.
Considering space limitations, we can only cite illustrative tradeoffs
1.Farmer income and food security. Farm diversification with corresponding integration generates higher farm income and better income security than specializing in one commodity. But in the case of rice farms, diversification may reduce national rice output. If this happens simultaneously with failure of global trade, Filipinos will feel food insecure. It boils down to a tradeoff between higher income and income security for farmers or feeling of food security for the country. If we favor the farmer, consumers may be forced to shift diet away from rice.
A related issue is efficiency and equity. Monocropping is efficient because it is amenable to mechanization and economies of scale. Contemporary expert thinking calls for consolidation of small farms so they can be mechanized. This may reduce costs and save the rice industry from global competition, but the impact on individual farmer income is minimal. We chose diversity as the basis of consumer food security, income security for farmers and sustainability of the food system.
2.Science and commerce. Science favors root and tuber crops as staple for Metro Manila because they are better adapted than rice to extremes of temperature and moisture, the expected climate change scenario. In addition they are more efficient than rice in energy production. However rice has superior handling and storage characteristics and preferred by consumers. Thus, the tradeoff is between crops that are biologically efficient and a crop that that is suited for commerce. We chose biological efficiency as it is an assurance of food security for consumers and income security for farmers.
3.Present and future. Fish catch from the wild can be sustained if fishing is restricted in areas identified as a fish sanctuary and during seasons when fish is reproducing. This is a tradeoff between present and future fish catches. We chose the future in our Vision. Fish shortages can be filled by aquaculture.
4.Convenience and price, and local economy and environment. Plastic is preferred for food packaging because of its price and convenience compared to plant fibers. However plastic pollutes water bodies and causes flooding. Plant fibers, on the other hand, are biodegradable and its widespread use as substitute for plastic can energize the local economy. Thus, the tradeoff is between convenience and price on one hand, and clean environment and the local economy on the other. We chose environment and economy. Inconveniences will be temporary. Reuse and recycling can offset the added cost of biodegradable packaging.
5.Shelter and food. We advocate a policy that sets aside space for food production for food security in urban communities in the same way that parks are allocated for recreation. It is a tradeoff between housing, parks and other public places, on one hand, and food on the other. We chose food as the most basic need.
3 Years | Describe 3 key milestones that you would need to achieve within the next three years for your Vision to be on track?
1.Education. The Planetary Health Diet (PHD)-based feeding program combined with food systems education and research to monitor health and learning outcomes, will be on-going in at least 3 economically depressed areas in Metro Manila. It will be supported by a community urban garden, which will be used as learning center.
Complementary to this is a program to improve the productivity of diversified farms focusing on foodstuff that are needed in quantity to supply the PHD requirements. Among these are mungbean, peanut, cowpea, camote, and vegetables.
2.Policy. The needed amendments will have been approved and/or resources to sustainably implement them will have been raised for the following existing laws:
a. RA 10000 aiming to provide easier access to capital for poor farmers
b.RA 9513 aiming to boost the use of renewable energy
c. RA 9275 aiming to improve sewage systems, and the related Administrative Order 16 s. 2019 mandating a clean-up of Metro Manila
d. RA 10816 aiming to boost farm tourism, will have shifted attention to the aquaculture sector, paving the way for increased income for fisherfolk
e. EO 114, the Balik Probinsiya Law (return to rural areas) aiming to establish the required services in the provinces and employment opportunities away from Metro Manila.
In addition, two new laws (now being discussed as a bill) on biotechnology and urban agriculture will have been passed. Discussions will have been pursued to create a new Department of Fisheries and Oceans; and to amend existing bioprospecting laws to make them a better instrument for research on, and conservation of biodiversity. Local ordinances restricting the use of plastics for the food industry will have been passed.
a.The rehabilitation of the Food Terminal Inc., a giant Marcos-era facility in southern Metro Manila, will have been completed.
b.The digital infrastructure of the country would have vastly improved with a new telecommunications company fully operational.
10 Years | What progress will you need to make—by 2030—that would set your Vision up to become a reality by 2050?
1. Food system education
a. The feeding program cum food system education being implemented nationwide. Curricular changes at all levels will have been done to integrate food systems in the menu of courses.
b. The PHD Plus App will have been successfully launched following the completion of the digital infrastructure and universal low cost fast internet access.
a. A second Food Terminal to serve the northern cities of Metro Manila will have been built.
b. Robust transport and logistics facilities, served by a cold chain, will have been established to link Metro Manila to food sources farther away so typhoons and other calamities will not threaten its food security.
3.Production. The following will have been accomplished:
a. Fishing grounds secured from poachers and illegal fishers, and a Mariculture Park established near Metro Manila by the new Department of Fisheries and Oceans
b. Balik sa Probinsiya recruited many artisan farmers from Metro Manila.
c. Production of grain legumes, vegetables, root and tuber crops doubled since 2020 in diversified rice farms
d. Policy in place linking subsidies to environmental protection targets and imposing penalty tax on environmentally harmful practices in the food system
e. Local governments required food production facilities in all residential communities, including high rise buildings
f. Renewable energy replaced fossil fuel as the main energy source in the farms
g. Tech transfer for commercial production of algae, insects and artificial meat initiated
a. The improvement of the sewage system by the water concessionaires completed
b. A household waste recyling system under extensive tests
c. Use of biodegradable local plant materials for packaging has become mainstream
d. Material and energy recovery facilities built in strategic locations to process Metro Manila garbage
e. Metro Manila’s rivers, lakes and Manila Bay sustainably clean
If awarded the $200,000 prize what would you do with it?
We will use it to attract additional money on a partnership basis to fund a food system education cum feeding programs in depressed urban communities. A community urban garden will be established as a permanent learning center. A long term research project (at least 10 years) will monitor the health and learning outcomes. The results of the monitoring will feed into the advocacy campaign for diet shift as shown in the attached document. So far we have two local organizations that signified support for this project, pledging Php 10 million each.
If you are chosen as a Top Visionary, The Rockefeller Foundation would like to share your Vision widely with a global audience. What would you like the world to learn from your Vision for 2050?
1. The present mega problems of society which are poverty, hunger, diseases, ecological disaster, among others is due to our dysfunctional food system.
2. Responsible consumption is the key to repairing the food system. Commitment to values such as quality of life, equity, cultural sensitivity and environmental care must be considered in addition to price, taste, and convenience, in guiding food choices.
3. Technology will give us higher confidence that we are making the right food choices, and create a nourishing and regenerative food system.
Please share a visual that communicates the structure and operation of your food system in 2050. Describe the visual.
The animated diagram provides an overview of the system, showing the tight interdependence of the four major components. To achieve the desired outcome, the consumer is key. A shift in eating habit ultimately diversifies the farms, heals the environment, and provides a better income for farmers. A comprehensive waste management system, technologies applied across the system, and enlightened policies will enable and sustain the system. Arrows show the interactions and waves symbolize the impact.
Structures, functions and connections in the system are presented. Farming and aquaculture are differentiated to a spectrum of technology types; marketing is done through multiple channels but minimizing layers. The most significant additions are a digital information network that links all the components, renewable energy, a cold chain, a cloud kitchen, and a waste management system that recovers energy and materials. The system gives the farmers, consumers and the environment a better deal.
Dynamic features of the system:
1) The differentiation of the farms from conventional to diversified labor-intensive farms on one hand, and capital-intensive high tech farms, on the other.
2) The shifting of food production from land to water as farm land becomes limiting
3) Fewer layers in marketing assure farmers and consumers of the best value.
4) Shifting of market power from traders to farmers and consumers with improved communication and cold chain.
5) Transformation of waste to revenues