Friday, July 04, 2008

It’s an agricultural country, stupid!

It may sound strict and stern, uncouth and unprofessional. But it is an expression only meant to drive home a reality that stares Filipinos at the face, a truth that especially people in the rural areas readily understand. The Philippines is an agricultural country—where “super–regions” do not make much sense, and where super-farmers are needed to stay, instead of preparing “super–maids to go”. Even a Filipino with a doctoral degree in economics from foreign university, should know this construct of nature, viz., with its many islands and rivers, its vast fields and farmlands, it seasons of rain and sun, the Philippines makes a country designed by nature itself to be by and large agricultural in constitution and finality.

In its elementary series, following is the more relevant successive reality flow in the context of agriculture: First, agriculture means food. Second, food nurtures life. Third, life promotes action. Fourth, action forwards progress and development. Fifth, progress and development advance human dignity. Sixth, human dignity confirms human rights. Seventh, human rights affirm democracy. Eighth, democracy confers national pride. Ninth, the pride of a national is a blessing of a people. Tenth, a blessed people are the fundamental element of a united and peaceful nation.

Making electronic components, manufacturing equipments, having Call Centers and many other economic agenda are good. Running stock markets, producing building materials, investing in housing projects and similar financial ventures are all right. Even downing trees, looking for precious metals, developing energy sources and such other undertakings are acceptable—on condition however that they neither undermine the agricultural constructs of the country, much less destroy the environment of the land. This conditionality is definite and defined. Otherwise, the Philippines would stay where it is now—nowhere! It is half–baked agricultural and half–cooked industrial. Balance: Neither here nor there.

Provided the People of the Philippines would not be subservient to the confused and confusing present administration, would neither mind the empty promises nor listen to the visionary pronouncements of the Malacañang occupant, there is still realistic hope for them to have a more salutary present and to look forward to a more promising future. Agricultural development is the answer to the national predicament. Green revolution is the call of the times. Food is wealth. It brings contentment. It means health and wellbeing. And when more than enough, food is profitable for export and even convertible to fuel.

Hence: Improve and enlarge irrigation systems. Mechanize farming. Put up storage buildings. Provide food packing/caning facilities. Build more farm to market roads. Fund research centers for rice and corn, vegetables and root crops, coconuts and sugarcane, and other widely native cultivated food items. Among other things, these mean a realistic investment in agriculture, a just and fair agricultural reform, a more favorably treated farming people, duly pursued and developed foreign markets for Filipino food products. Again—with feeling: THE PHILIPPINES IS AN AGRICULTURAL COUNTRY, STUPID!

4 July 2008