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Dr. Emil Javier

What to do with agriculture in 2016 and beyond (Part VII)

‘There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?’ – Robert Kennedy What to do with rice For the most part policies, legislation and public appropriations needed to make our agriculture more productive, competitive, equitable and sustainable are in place. The appropriate policies, directions and priorities have been dealt with comprehensively by the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) of 1997, the Fisheries Code of 1998 and other related enactments by Congress. The appropriations of the Department of Agriculture (DA) have more than doubled to P90 million during the last five years. What is sorely lacking is smart program planning, execution and coordination by the many agencies of government, both national and local, particularly by the DA. However, …

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What to do with agriculture in 2016 and beyond (Part VII)

‘There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream  of things that never were, and ask why not?’ – Robert Kennedy What to do with Rural extension Alarmed by the superficial treatment of agriculture in the first debate among the candidates for president held in Cagayan de Oro, a five-member multi-sectoral coalition led by Ernesto Ordonez (Alyansa Agrikultura) and Alex Escano (Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Fisheries, Inc. [PCAFI]) conducted a press conference on February 24 at the Aristocrat in Makati to bring to the candidates’ attention six major recommendations with which to give life to the anemic rural sector. First among these is the imperative to strengthen the management and capacity of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to provide central direction and coordination of public …

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Fortune and misfortune

The furor created by the Supreme Court (SC) by its adverse decision on Bt eggplant and plant products, in general, derived from the use of modern biotechnology calls to mind the Chinese parable of the old man who lost a horse. The old man whose name was Sai Wong (meaning, “an old man at the border”) lived in northern China during the Warring States period. The old man was good at raising horses and one day one of his horses wandered off and got lost. His neighbors were very sorry for him but after a day or two, the horse returned with another fine horse. The old man’s only son tried to tame the new horse but fell off and broke his leg. And soon thereafter war broke out when the …

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What to do with agriculture in 2016 and beyond

Persevering with coops, IAs and ARCs The underwhelming performance of cooperatives, irrigators associations and agrarian reform communities beg the questions – should we persevere in organizing farmers into cooperatives, irrigators associations and agrarian reform communities? And, if so, however else should we proceed? The basic premise for organizing farmers into producers clusters is to overcome lack of economies of scale at all stages of the farming enterprise, starting from land preparation, to culture / husbandry, acquisition of inputs, credit and technology, and finally to transport, storage and marketing of produce. The clusters will allow the small, fragmented farms to operate as larger management units, sidestepping the sensitive issue of land ownership. The other way of course is to reverse agrarian reform and allow the landed families and the elite in the countryside as well …

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What to do with agriculture in 2016 and beyond

‘There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?’ – Robert Kennedy   CREDIT TO THE UNBANKABLE  AND UNDERSERVED The most recalcitrant shortcoming in our agricultural development program is our failure to provide easy access to and affordable credit to the bulk of our small farmers and fisherfolk. For lack of credit they are unable to avail of inputs and technologies with which to increase yields, reduce losses and enhance incomes. The magnitude of the challenge is reflected in the 2013 statistics from the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), which is a dedicated unit in the Department of Agriculture (DA) tasked to provide direction and oversight to agricultural lending. The agriculture and fisheries sector contributed 12 percent to our …

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What to do with agriculture in 2016 and beyond

Continuing Investments in Irrigation and Drainage Systems Among the infrastructures required for a productive and competitive agricultural sector, the most capital intensive are investments in irrigation and drainage systems. Dependable supply and control of water are vital for three reasons: 1) to maximize crop yields, 2) to avoid losses from drought and from floods and 3) to effectively multiply physical land area by relay, continuous cropping. Ten-Year Irrigation Development Program Our single most obvious physical limitation in agriculture is farm land availability relative to population. We have only 10 million hectares for 100 million people … only 1,000 square meters for each Filipino from where to grow all his/her food, fiber and shelter needs. Worse this small number is progressively diminishing as more and more farm lands are diverted to industry, tourism, human …

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What to do with agriculture in 2016 and beyond

Continuing Investments in Rural Institutions and Infrastructure Our lack of progress in the attainment of urgent national economic and social development goals to a large extent can be traced to the anemic performance of the agriculture sector. Making agriculture more productive and pushing it to grow faster can contribute significantly to reducing poverty, creating employment, improving food security, reducing inequality and enhancing peace and order in the countryside. There is no single panacea to the ills dragging down Philippine agriculture. Wide ranging reforms are in order along four major platforms, namely: •reform of the bureaucracy of the Department of Agriculture (DA), •meaningful participation of stakeholders in governance, •continuing investments in rural institutions and infrastructure, and •closure on a few important but contentious issues. The two previous columns dealt with the first two platforms of reform. STRENGTHENING COOPERATIVES,  IRRIGATORS …

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What to do with agriculture in 2016 and beyond (Part 2)

‘There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?’ – Robert Kennedy Our slow progress in the attainment of our national economic and social development goals trace their roots to a large extent to the relative lack of productivity in agriculture. Pervasive poverty, underemployment, high food prices and malnutrition could be attributed to the failure of the agriculture sector to contribute significantly to the growth of our economy. The 1.7% rate of growth of agriculture, not even matching population growth, during the last five years (2011-2015) is symptomatic of this malaise. And yet the ingredients to make agriculture move forward, to make it more productive, competitive, sustainable and economically rewarding to our millions of small farmers …

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What to do with agriculture in 2016 and beyond

The start of the year is always an opportune time to pause, to take stock where we are; recall the things that have turned out well; contemplate on the others where we could have done better, and resolve what to do moving forward. During the past year, a group of well-meaning Filipinos, most of whom are senior citizens and alumni of UP Los Baños (UPLB) plus a few others similarly motivated, got together and organized ourselves into the Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines (CAMP, for short). As the name suggests, we are keenly aware and very concerned with how the country is faring and recognize that many of the ills that bother our nation have to do with lack of progress in the rural sector. We have to modernize …

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A misapplication of the Writ of Kalikasan (Part 3)

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why . . . I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? . . . Robert Kennedy.   The application of the Writ of Kalikasan on the conduct of field testing of Bt eggplant was unwarranted both on procedural and substantive grounds. Associate Justice Marvic Leonen himself in his concurring majority opinion pointed out that the petition for the writ as it assails the field testing permits for Bt talong should have dismissed and considered moot and academic. The two-year permits for the Bt talong field tests were about to expire and the field tests themselves have been completed. There was therefore according to Justice Leonen grave abuse of discretion which amounts to excess of jurisdiction on the …

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