The missing legs-A A +A
By Dr. Bob Ocio
Isyo ug Servicio
Thursday, October 10, 2013
SOLUTIONS to Hunger, Floods, Urban Congestion and Climate Change.
The late lawyer Mordino Cua once wrote that a stool would never stand if one leg is missing. Today, our country has millions of hungry and recurring flood victims in congested cities because the government continually crippled the poor farmers with the resources that they need in the countryside.
Solution #1 – locally produced compost
Water is a vital need to grow food and compost materials like organic garbage are good sources of organic fertilizers. Locally produced compost solves garbage problems and it should be used to increase the water-holding capacity of fields, orchards and vineyards, including green wastes from cities now generating methane from landfills instead of being sorted and composted for distribution to farmers. Increasing organic matter in soils from one to five percent boosts water storage in the root zones from 33 to 195 pounds per cubic meter.
Integrating trees and nitrogen fixing plants in strategic locations in the landscape are also good sources of compost and increase in the water holding capacity for the soil. Organic Australian vineyards for example require an equal area of forests to ensure the irrigation supply of the grapefruits.
Solution #2 – water harvesting and slope landscape management
Second, small–and medium–scale rainwater harvesting and grey water use on private and public lands should be encouraged. The use of cisterns or containers, excavations for ponds, terrace farming, swales and horizontal canals are the latest models for sustainable landscape management even in slopes which are largely denuded due to illegal and destructive logging and mining. The Louess Plateau of China Rehabilitation Project is set as an example of a large scale landscape management which retained so much water to reforest and pursue ecological restoration. The film Greening the Desert in Jordan exemplifies such a combination of water harvesting, slope management and the use of compost to re green a vast dry area of a desert.
Solution #3 – edible tree crops and perennial plants
Go for food forests which will produce food all year round like fruits, bananas, potatoes and other root crops. Go for a farm bill which should include funds of the Department of Agriculture to help farmers shift to forms of perennial agriculture, initially focusing on edible tree crops and perennial grass pastures, rather than provide more subsidies to bio-fuel production from annual crops. Perennial crops not only keep 7.5 to 9.4 times more carbon in the soil than annual crops, but their production also reduces the fossil fuels needed to till the soil every year. (They have many other advantages: preventing runoff and soil erosion, conserving water and nutrients and reducing pollution, see - Ending 10,000 Years of Conflict between Agriculture and Nature, SiS 39.)- Dr. Mae Wan Ho
Solution #44 – seed banks and nurseries
We need action on the looming seed crisis. Recent droughts and floods have created the largest shortage of native grass, forage, legume, tree and shrub seeds. A national reserve of crop seeds, should be funded to evaluate the hundreds of thousands of seed collections for drought and heat tolerance, as well as other climate adaptations. This would cost a fraction of what it takes for a biotech company to develop, patent, and market a single GM crop, and produce much faster results.“Investing in climate-change adaptation will be far more cost-effective than dolling out billions in crops insurance payments for farmers hit with diminished yields or all-out crop failures,” Nabhan said.
Solution #5 – access to lands, capital and technology for the farmers
Without access to public and private lands for the purpose, our landless farmers will continue to congest our cities. Without access to capital, even the farmers will leave their lands because sustainability is wanting in the interim. Without appropriate technology which geared toward sustainability, the farmers will forever be chained in the violence of capital intensive food production which only enrich the suppliers of expensive fertilizers and chemicals. Without the money to prioritize these needs to develop the productivity of our farmers, the countryside will always be idle and the purchasing capacity of most of our people will forever be held at a standstill and thus, people empowerment will never happen.
I always thought that the backbone of our nation are the farmers themselves. It is sad that we kept on discussing about this in various forums and even put it in landmark programs of governance without the heart and political will to make it a priority.
It is about time to make A PARADIGM SHIFT IN THINKING AND ATTITUDE.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 10, 2013.