Common Sense Makes Sense for Philippine Agriculture

Common Sense Makes Sense for Philippine Agriculture

Philippine agriculture epitomizes a paradox. While the country nestles the top institutions for agricultural research (University of the Philippines Los Baños and International RIce Research Institute), we have yet to attain self-sufficiency in rice and are currently struggling to provide adequate supply of this staple crop. Statistics provide an even glimmer picture. Poverty remains to be a rural phenomenon. In fact, two out of three people suffering from poverty reside in rural areas and are mainly dependent on agricultural labor and incomes. On the other hand, poverty among agricultural households is about three times higher than the rest of the population. In addition, though the share of agriculture in the total labor force has decreased from one-half in the late 1980's to only about one-third by the mid-2000's, this sector has a 60% share of total poverty.

I am no economist or scientist, but I'd like to share my five-cents' worth of opinion on the issue of Philippine agriculture and development. Insights from a thirty-something martial law baby, who has long suffered from being a Filipino for the past 34 years and who has seen first-hand that what is deemed "impossible" in the Philippines to be a "reality" elsewhere, could be of worth in the long run.

First off, recognition should be given where it is due. Case in point is the presence and continued effort exerted by our agricultural scientists. I believe that we have one of the best of scientists and researchers in the world. However, their efforts seem to be undervalued; they should be better compensated for their work. As it is, our scientists and researchers have to make do with lower salaries than their corporate or multinational counterparts and practically have to beg for funding for their resesarch projects. It is no wonder then, that a number of them have already succumbed to the diaspora bug and have opted to migrate to where pastures are greener. If we want these brilliant...

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