Yes, we will-A A +A
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
THE slogan might as well be “Sí, se puede,” often translated in English as Barack Obama’s campaigners did with “Yes, we can” (Sí, nos podemos).
César Chávez and his co-founder, Dolores Huerta, of the United Farm Workers could perhaps be pleased if the province adopts that battle cry.
Recently, Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. said we can be self-sufficient in rice. Negros Occidental currently produces 96 percent of its rice needs, and the goal to be self-sufficient by 2013 in rice is well within our grasp.
I’m happy to note that Marañon is talking about mechanization that will increase farmers’ production and incomes. Top provincial and municipal executives watched the demonstration on the use of a Department of Agriculture-donated Kubota DC-60 Combine Harvester at a rice farm in Valladolid.
Ramon Uy Jr., the current president of the Organic na Negros! Organic Producers and Retailers Association (ONOPRA) also attended the exhibition. (Much earlier during one of our meetings, he showed me an iPhone video of the harvester combine).
I can see the advantages of using the uhot (rice straws) to produce organic fertilizers or livestock feed to reduce cost of crop production, which of course can add to the income of rice farmers.
Obviously, the farm demo is a sales pitch to buy more of the combine harvesters. I see nothing wrong with mechanizing our agriculture to boost productivity and raise the income of our food producers.
What I want to see, however, is the medium and long-term plan to develop agro-industries here in the province. Are there no government-supported plans to develop Negrense agro-industries? The opportunities are there, but so far there have been few takers from the province.
As early as 2010, the Department of Agriculture set its sights on mechanizing organic farms to make them more efficient. The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (DA-PhilMech) said that it is set to implement various postharvest and agricultural mechanization programs under the government’s P900-million organic agriculture initiatives.
Everyone who has been involved with organic agriculture knows the problems that farmers face.
Organic farming is labor intensive, especially in the land preparation stage where the soil must be tilled or loosened so the roots of organically raised plants could breathe better. So postharvest and mechanization are very much applicable in organic agriculture.
“To make the tilling of soil easier, mechanization should be adopted by organic farmers,” Ricardo Cachuela, PhilMech executive director, said.
In other words, organic farming need not be retrogressive to the natural farming practiced in the 18th century. There is a lot of room for complementing it with modern technology such as mechanization.
I’m not saying the effort and the support are nil in Negros. I’ve visited R.U. Foundry Inc. and AID Foundation to see the emerging agro-industries. Many organic farms have availed of their stand-alone shredders and thresher innovations which are cheaper than their foreign counterparts.
There is a market out there in the province, and elsewhere in the country. Of course, a lot more researches on product designs, however, is needed to make it more competitive with foreign brands such as Kubota.
This is how backward formerly rural societies in Japan, China, Taiwan and South Korea have progressed.
They refused to get stuck on an agrarian economy and consciously diverted their human, financial and technological resource to achieve progress in agriculture and industries.
My dream is to achieve both for the province, if not the island. Can we achieve both? ¡Sí, lo haremos! (Yes, we will do it!)
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 27, 2012.