Change that we can become: Countryside sustainable development

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By Dr. Bob Ocio

Isyo ug Servicio

Sunday, February 23, 2014


WILL large scale monocrop agricultural industries like palm oil plantations help massive unemployment or even solve our problems of hunger, floods, urban congestion, traffic, pollution, garbage and the like?

No, never. It will only increase these problems.

Industrial agriculture is unsustainable and it causes topsoil and land degradation

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rehabilitation of degraded land has the potential to double the amount of agricultural land globally. Decades of unsustainable industrial agricultural practices have resulted in massive loss of topsoil and land degradation. Worldwide, the 1.5 billion hectares of land under cultivation now are almost equal in area to the amount that has been abandoned by humans since farming began. As such, it will only cause more water loss during heavy rains and further endanger an already flood prone Cagayan de Oro metropolitan center which is a huge water basin.

Answer

The answer is to support small and medium agricultural Investments in the countryside.

The unemployment problem is due to the government’s failure to appreciate the countryside’s potential for creating jobs. We are pointing out here to small and medium agro-based industries in the countryside where children of farmers stream to the cities in search of job opportunities which are wanting in the farms and which their parents were never able to sustain due to the failure of the government to support the need to help them get access to lands, technology and capital.

Now, after having migrated to the cities, they end up being further miserable and unemployed and adding up to an already unemployed surplus in the cities and there from, living in congested shanties, filthy, dirty and flood prone slums whose increasing number, causes more and more social problems, criminality, illnesses despair. They have now since become more and more vulnerable to political patronage, dependent on superficial services and grease grants provided for by a corrupt political system.

The successes of small agro-ecological farms

The successes of small agro-ecological farms are well known. Improvements in yield and income as well as environmental benefits from eliminating agricultural input and polluting runoffs, increase in agricultural and natural biodiversity, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and most of all, improvements in water retention, carbon sequestration and resilience to climate extremes such as drought and floods.

Agro-ecology is a solution to the crises of food systems and climate change and as such, sustainable agriculture improve the supply of critical environmental service. In developing countries, greater profitability is due to higher yields and high premiums. The increased profits are accompanied by enormous savings due to reduced damages to the external ecosystems from polluting agrochemicals.

The principle of counter economics

In order to free the people from the central planners, one must start to participate in localized means of production and trade. The amount of power that is stripped away from you by simply purchasing a bunch of tomatoes from your local farmer or growing your own will prove to be an invaluable asset in the near future. We have been buying tomatoes and in fact "overproducing" much of those tomatoes during days of abundant supply which we simply throw away or are left rotten. Government can interfere by providing incentives for small scale tomato growers to preserve those tomatoes and sell them later as tomato preserves like jams, jellies, ketchup, and the like.

The need for Appropriate Technology ??Integrate Nitrogen fixing plants and trees ?Madre de cacao, ipil-ipil and the like provide green manure for cereal crops as well as fodder for livestock. Similarly, planting species like Napier grass as an intercrop or around small fields attract the insect pests away from the crops.

Integrate trees and cash crops

Integrate trees within the farming systems. This way, we can help solve floods and improve ecological diversity. Cash crops such as coffee, cocoa and rubber are increasingly grown by small holders in various combinations; also bananas with fruit trees like mango and avocado and local indigenous trees that produce marketable products. Another innovation in the tropics, especially South-East Asia, led by farmers who used to practice shifting agriculture, is to plant a wide variety of commercially important tree species among food crops species on the valley slopes.

The Need for Cash Capital Investment and Lands for the Countryside Farmers

It was published on national papers that the 1500-hectare palm oil plantation owners have inked a private-public deal with the Moreno administration. They said the city would provide the land, while they provide the technology. Question: Who will rake in the profits?

Why should this company invest if not for the huge profit out of the capital they have and the lands that we freely provide? Why should we grant them 5,000 hectares of lands when our farmers need them not only for a living but to keep our city's ecological balance? Why can we finance a P70 million intelligence fund for many years under the past administration or propose anew the same funds when we know that it cannot be scrutinized, go into the biding process or even be properly audited?

Early before the 2013 elections, Emano admitted to have carted away P55 million for himself from the intelligence funds without us knowing how he spent the money nor even liquidating the same. Why can't we appropriate the same funds for our people and provide those lands for countryside development to solve the same recurring problems?

Pulling the wrong buttons

Our Mayors, legislators and executives therefore, are pulling the wrong buttons and they mismanaged our resources for their own greedy purposes. People must move together to intervene and design their own fate. We are spelling out the alternatives today, so that we can have a better choices and probably change our ways of thinking to be better citizens of this country and parents looking forward for our children's well being and future.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 23, 2014.

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