No magic for the meek-A A +A
So to speak
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
ALL it takes is a drought to drive some people out of their minds. Such a thought, dreary enough to pave a summer of discontent all the way to the desert, can be tricky enough as the trickle of common sense. “The drought is causing all sorts of problems,” begins a joke. “One swimmer was so depressed about the lack of water that he decided to end it all by jumping into his pool and staying on the bottom where he died of starvation.”
Thirsty, the imagination could soak up this splashy flight of ironic fancy: “So dry the birds are building their nests out of barbed wire.”
Tapping the upside of anything downbeat or dire is something that American farmers can flaunt as proof of their fair prospects in the face of adversity. As the weather seems to weigh down the sun all over the country’s farms, drought-struck acres of crops have compelled the Department of Agriculture to declare at least 1,369 counties in 31 states as “natural-disaster areas” where farmers were left with nothing but the scorched remains of at least 88 percent of the nation’s corn and 87 percent of soybeans. The worst crisis for farmers since 1988, claimed a report.
Read their lips lit with a smile. Thus insurance companies may as well be spitting at them in utter disdain. After all, the farmers’ insurance policies come with government backing with subsidies from taxpayers, leaving insurers like Wells Fargo & Company (WFC) to bear the brunt of forking over farmers’ claims worth billions of dollars.
Favored with a federal program that acknowledges them as “essential to the economy,” the farmers are obviously beaming at the tax-subsidized insurance and “laughing all the way to the bank,” according to one economist and critic of the federal insurance policy. So far, according to federal data, the premiums collected in 2011 have summed up government’s payout pegged at $7.4 billion while farmers have chipped in $4.5 billion.
Money trumps misery, indeed, as American lawmakers walk their talk of proceeding “substantially in the direction of having risk management be the farmers’ safety net.”
Fishing for such a bounty, meanwhile, are the farmers at the other side of the planet who can only rest unsure despite their star-spangled dream to tide themselves over the Third-World economics of scarcity and uncertainty. Grin and bear it. Or so they must endure where the government stays mostly spaced-out from the down-to-earth and chicken-feed circumstance of the majority, not the least of whom are the tillers of the soil who end up with no more than morsels from their harvest.
Yield to the lush field inside one’s head when confronted with the cliché of being powerless. A stubborn imagination to overcome the odds may yet bear fruition true to the inspiring story of a Cebuano scientist who is set to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award—the Nobel Prize of Asia—“for devoting his work to helping farmers fight pests and produce more food.” In the process, the passion of Dr. Romulo Davide has succeeded in “placing the power and discipline of science in the hands of farmers in the Philippines, who have consequently multiplied their yields, created productive farming communities, and rediscovered the dignity of their labor.”
Work of heart, or so the agriculturist from Colawin has willed himself into exceeding the frustrations along the way: “Clear-minded about his goals, Davide has all these years refused to be discouraged by erratic funding, bureaucratic inertia, or political interference, saying that one must learn ‘to walk straight even on a crooked path. He continues to be driven by the dream that, indeed, the land can be made fertile if minds are challenged to become fertile as well.”
Good stories like Davide’s may yet prove the wisdom of daring to imagine, to kick ourselves from our meekness to inherit the earth.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 01, 2012.