Fetalvero: Farmers detoured

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By Noemi C. Fetalvero

Two empty bottles

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


OUR government aims to increase farm production to make us self-sufficient within this year. This is rather difficult to achieve. Typhoons and floods in view of climate change have to be considered with fixity of purpose to prevent damage of great magnitude. Crisis management alone will not do.

With 50 percent of the population living in poverty line, the Philippine government has to act fast to lower the cost of rice. It is a prime commodity that is very essential to the poor who sometimes cannot even afford to buy fish that could cost P170 per kilo on the average.

The Senate Committee hearing on rice smuggling gives me a glimpse of what a global activist is trying to let the world know. In the book Local Ways To Change the World authors Mike Prokosch and Laura Raymond, Denise O’Brien gave this analysis: “Trade was being used to manipulate the farm economy to the benefit of the very few grain traders in the world. During farm crisis, women on farms began to understand the dynamics of world trade. Many women on farms in the United States were the bookkeepers, so they knew immediately when the debt-to-asset ratio began to shift.”

O’Brien reported a scenario similar to what is happening here wherein one woman farmer said: “I know what it is like to sell raw products and not be able to put food on the table.”

Many of our farmers are compelled to leave their farms and venture into the cities where they end up as informal settlers with no fix incomes.

The Irish government donated grain seedlings to victims of typhoon Yolanda. Our government needs to triplicate this gesture all over the archipelago in order for us to be self sufficient in rice. This way we get rid of rice smugglers and give incentives to our farmers to return to their farms.

The Aquino government should also speed up the judicial process holding accountable those involved in the fertilizer scam so that those responsible for the criminal act will compensate the farmers whose livelihood were gravely affected. Then we can again fill the two empty bottles of our farmers’ infants.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 13, 2014.

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